Back to cold-fashioned ways, Wizards can't beat Heat, 101-81

Follow-up to defeating top-notch Kings includes scoring drought, injury

March 22, 2004|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

WASHINGTON - Go ahead and try to figure out these Washington Wizards.

Allegedly the same team that beat the championship-caliber Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night reverted to their old, inconsistent ways in an inexplicable 101-81 loss to the Miami Heat at MCI Center yesterday.

As seems to be the case all year, the Wizards (22-47) had an excuse, namely an injury to a key player. This time, it was point guard Gilbert Arenas, who sprained his right ankle in the first quarter while attempting to block a shot.

Arenas, Washington's leading scorer at 20.6 points a game, tried to return in the second and third quarters before taking the rest of the day off. He was scoreless in 22 minutes.

"Somehow, I knew it," said Arenas. "You get in a rhythm and ... it was my turn. I guess, we're only allowed to have two [players back] at a time. It's my turn to go out and when I come back, it will be somebody else's turn to go out. That's how it feels."

Indeed, Arenas' injury negated the positive vibe felt when shooting guard Larry Hughes, who had been on the injured list for six weeks with a broken wrist, returned to the roster and moved into the starting lineup.

Hughes, who was expected to form a solid scoring trio with Arenas and Jerry Stackhouse this season, missed his first six shots and had a hard time getting into the offensive flow. He finished with eight points on 3-for-14 field-goal shooting.

"I feel things coming around," said Hughes, who has played with Stackhouse and Arenas a total of 11 quarters this season. "I didn't want to go out there and force things. I took shots within the offense. I took open shots. I just didn't put them in the hole."

He wasn't the only one. After closing the first period and opening the second with a 16-0 run, the Washington offense went into cold storage for two periods. The Heat (33-37) punished them with a 66-31 spurt from the 11:03 mark of the second quarter when the Wizards led 29-17. Washington shot 40 percent from the field for the game and suffered 21 turnovers.

"We didn't have any problems with our team's effort," said Washington coach Eddie Jordan. "We didn't have any problems with the way we approached the game. We really executed the game plan well, which is different.

"You have to give credit to Miami. They are a forceful team ... We turned the ball over again. We're trying to work through some things and it's going to be natural that we're not going to be in sync as well as we'd like to be."

Rookie Steve Blake, a Miami native and former Maryland Terrapin, scored a career-high 21 points, including 5-for-7 from three-point range. Teammate Etan Thomas had a career-high 16 rebounds to go with 11 points.

However, forward Kwame Brown followed stellar games against Sacramento (30 points, 19 rebounds) and Atlanta (27 points, 11 rebounds) with six points and seven rebounds yesterday in 32 minutes.

The Wizards failed for the seventh time this season to win a third straight game, and their record is a woeful 1-19 against the Atlantic Division, the only NBA grouping with just one team above .500.

They now embark on a five-game, eight-day Western trip.

"We just can't be discouraged," said Stackhouse. "We're playing hard and trying to play the right way. Hopefully, that will help us in the long run. But it's tough."















Percentages: FG .473, FT .750. 3-point goals: 6-15, .400 (Jones 3-9, Alston 2-3, R.Butler 1-1, Odom 0-1, Wang 0-1). Team rebounds: 5. Team turnovers: 7 (4 PTS). Blocked shots: 1 (Wade). Turnovers: 7 (Wade 4, Odom 2, Haslem). Steals: 10 (Jones 2, C.Butler 2, Haslem 2, Wade 2, Alston, Odom). Technical fouls: None. FGFTReb














Percentages: FG .395, FT .700. 3-point goals: 7-19, .368 (Blake 5-7, Jeffries 1-1, Hughes 1-4, Dixon 0-1, Stackhouse 0-1, Hayes 0-2, Arenas 0-3). Team rebounds: 10. Team turnovers: 21 (22 PTS). Blocked shots: 7 (Thomas 4, Brown 2, Haywood). Turnovers: 21 (Stackhouse 4, Arenas 4, Thomas 3, Blake 3, Dixon 2, Hayes 2, Hughes, Jeffries, M.Butler). Steals: 3 (Thomas, Brown, Stackhouse). Technical foul: Defensive Three Second, 8:35 first. Miami17323418-101


A-17,220 (20,674). T-1:59. Officials-Joe Crawford, Luis Grillo, Leroy Richardson.

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