Heat takes inside lane to beat Wizards

Arenas has 47, but skid vs. Miami hits 14

Heat 128 Wizards 113

December 31, 2005|By JEFF BARKER | JEFF BARKER,SUN REPORTER

WASHINGTON -- On a bulletin board before the game, coach Pat Riley had presented his Miami Heat players with the doctrine according to Riley.

Topping the list of offensive rules that Riley wrote in black and white was: "Establish a low-post game. Play inside-out. Pass it out. Re-post."

The Heat players must have taken the coach's entreaty to heart because Miami scored 60 points in the paint - to Washington's 38 - and used its post game to send the Wizards to a 128-113 defeat last night in front of the sixth sellout crowd of the season at MCI Center.

It wasn't just center Shaquille O'Neal (28 points) doing the damage inside. The versatile Antoine Walker chipped in with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Dwyane Wade led Miami with 34 points, including 26 in the second half.

Gilbert Arenas had a career-high 47 points to lead the Wizards, who led 93-91 after three quarters but were steamrolled in the fourth by O'Neal and Miami's inside attack.

It was Washington's 14th straight loss to Miami dating back to the 2002-03 season. The Wizards have collected big wins this season at Detroit and Phoenix, but the team seems to sense that it isn't really going anywhere until it can surmount its Southeast Division rivals, who swept Washington out of last year's playoffs.

Arenas almost single-handedly kept Washington in the game for three quarters. He hit 14 of his first 20 shots, then seemed to tire and missed eight of his final nine as the Heat concentrated on not allowing him to penetrate the lane.

In the past week, Miami has allowed 51 points by New Jersey's Vince Carter, 37 by the Lakers' Kobe Bryant, and now 47 by Arenas, which bested his previous high of 44 set last season.

"I tried to carry us early, but we just couldn't get over the hump," Arenas said. "We have to score in the fourth quarter like we did in the first three quarters. I don't think I even hit a bucket until late in the fourth quarter and I'm not helping my team when I do that."

After Washington took a 93-91 lead, Miami used a 20-5 run highlighted by seven points by Walker and four by O'Neal.

"Antoine [Walker] is our missing link, and our key factor," O'Neal said. "If he can come in and play like he did tonight, we will be a hard team to beat. He had a breakout game tonight."

Said Wade: "I even heard him [Walker] say at one point, `I'm back!'"

Playing in his first season with the Heat and 10th in the NBA, Walker had 17 points combined in the last three games, including just three in a loss at Detroit on Thursday night.

Walker's 13 rebounds included six offensive boards.

Walker, who fouled out of the game with three minutes left, and O'Neal, who had five fouls, helped Riley achieve another of the tenets he had written on the bulletin board.

"Keep bodies on cutters," he wrote. "Physical."

jeff.barker@baltsun.com

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.