MIAMI — The run of dominance was bound to end. Eventually, the beaten-down foe was going to get fed up and respond with a performance that showed that it needed to be taken seriously.
The Wizards’ three-game winning streak over the Heat ended emphatically with a 102-72 shellacking at American Airlines Arena that featured a lot of LeBron James dunking and driving, Dwyane Wade stealing and slashing and Washington clanking and coughing up the ball.
“People have been saying we had their number. I bet they were listening to the media. I kind of knew they were going to come at us,” forward Chris Singleton said after the Wizards lost their third game in a row to remain the league’s worst team at 3-18.
Washington finally got its comeuppance from a Heat team that was done watching Jordan Crawford clap to taunt James on the free throw line, finished with letting the Wizards run up the score and laugh on the bench, and over watching John Wall and Nene connect on a pick-and-roll finish on its home floor. Those were all scenes from the previous three meetings.
“Any team that beats us, we want to get a little back,” James said.
James had 23 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as Miami held the Wizards to a season low in scoring, forced 21 turnovers and eliminated any concerns about which team deserves to end up on top in these matchups. With James dominating in almost every way, the Heat was able to extend a 14-point halftime lead to 33 at the start of the fourth period and let its reserves finish out the game.
“We got our tails kicked,” Wizards Coach Randy Wittman said. “We had no organization. We just got outplayed, outcoached, out-efforted, everything.”
This game was destined to be lopsided, considering all of the factors involved. Miami hadn’t played since an embarrassing loss on Wednesday to Golden State, while the Wizards were playing their fourth game in five nights. They were also without Brazilian big man Nene, who was forced to sit with soreness in his problematic left foot, leaving Washington with just 10 healthy players against a team that was well-rested, talented and angry.
“We were all over the place, honestly. I don’t know. I guess our heads were just spinning,” Bradley Beal said after scoring a team-high 19 points. “We were short. You can’t use that as an excuse. You’ve just got to play through it.”
The defending champion Heat was smarting over a 105-101 loss in Washington less than two weeks ago, when the Wizards claimed their second win of the season and kept alive one of the NBA’s most bizarre streaks.
Miami had lost its final two games against the Wizards last April, when it rested its all-star trio of James, Wade and Chris Bosh to get them rested for an eventual title run.
The Wizards eked out a win in Miami, then handed the Heat a 34-point beatdown in the regular season finale — by far its worst loss last season.
Miami ended a lot of suspense in the first six minutes, when it jumped out to a 14-4 lead and never had to worry about the Wizards the rest of the night. The Wizards didn’t help themselves as they struggled to connect from anywhere on the floor.
Martell Webster missed a driving dunk. Later, Singleton missed a dunk and Emeka Okafor grabbed the rebound and threw up a short jumper that hit only the opposite side of the backboard.
“I didn’t know what we were running half the time,” Wittman said. “I don’t know what we were doing. We turned into putty.”
Cartier Martin (18 points) drilled a three-pointer with 9.2 seconds left in the first period to help the Wizards avoid matching their season-low for points in a quarter but they still trailed 26-14. They were unable, however, to avoid matching their season low with 36 points at halftime.
It was the second time in the past four games that they reached that total. The Wizards were able to overcome their offensive offense in recording a win over the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday, but James made sure there would be no repeat against his team. He was a one-man show in the third quarter, personally outscoring the Wizards, 16-10, in the period and putting Miami ahead 79-46.
“He can play,” Singleton said of James, “but a lot of people are going to outscore us when we only score 10 points.”
Crawford, who scored a team-high 22 points against Miami on Dec. 4, was limited to just five points — his lowest output since Nov. 7, when he scored a season-low two points — on 2-of-12 shooting. Frustration took over for Crawford in the second half, when he started jawing with Heat point guard Mario Chalmers and later had to be separated by referee Dick Bavetta.
“We didn’t do a good job of fighting that much,” Crawford said. “We didn’t take care of business. They was the aggressor. We didn’t play hard.”