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Recap: Depleted Wizards fall short in Miami 113-105

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The Wizards had to make some adjustments tonight playing without Bradley Beal, Monte Morris, and Rui Hachimura on the road in Miami. They fell behind big in the first half, but an amazing spurt to start the second half and a strong scoring performance from Kyle Kuzma (33 points) brought them back into the game. Unfortunately, the Heat had all the answers down the stretch, and the Wizards couldn’t come out on top. Final score: Heat 113, Wizards 105.

Jordan Goodwin got his first career start, and Washington looked good right away. The ball was moving on offense, key contributors stepped up early, and they were able to take an 11-2 lead. After that short burst to start the game, the Heat settled into their zone again and — just as he did in last week’s matchup — Kyle Lowry caught fire.

Near the end of the first quarter, the Heat went on a 19-6 run, and carried that momentum into the second frame, breaking the game wide open. About halfway through the second quarter, the Heat extended their lead to 17 points. Lowry had 22 points of his own on 7-of-8 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 shooting from deep.

The Wizards were down 60-43 at the half and were searching to find the same effectiveness with which they opened the game. Their offense had gone stagnant. They were losing the battle of the boards. And worst of all, they were turning the ball over too much.

The Heat made a couple of threes in the first two minutes of the third quarter, extending their lead to 21, but after that, the Wizards flipped the script. They looked like a completely new and rejuvenated team.

“I thought we got outworked the bulk of that first half,” said Wizards head coach Wes Unseld Jr. “The difference in our purpose, a little bit more grit, toughness in that second half changed the game.”

Porzingis was huge, scoring 13 points in the third quarter and looking like the Porzingis Wizards fans have come to know and love in recent weeks. He finished the game with 21 points on 8-of-19 shooting from the field to go along with nine rebounds and four assists.

Will Barton was another guy who stepped up and helped the Wizards get back into the game. He was phenomenal off the bench, scoring 13 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the field to go along with seven assists, seven rebounds, and one steal. It was one of the best all-around games of the season for Barton, who drilled a three with a few seconds left in the third quarter to pull the squad within three.

And of course, with 8:15 left in the fourth, it was a Barton three ball that gave the Wizards their first lead since the opening quarter.

The final period was full of high-level basketball. The shot-making was unreal from both teams. Kuzma scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field in the fourth quarter, bringing his total to 33 on the night. He also grabbed seven rebounds.

A large part of the Wizards’ success in getting back into the game was Deni Avdija. He was often playing in the middle of the zone, finding open spaces and operating as the zone buster. He finished the night with a near triple-double, totaling 12 points, a career-high 10 assists, and nine rebounds.

Ultimately, Tyler Herro got the last laugh. He connected on four deep balls for the Heat in the fourth quarter — too much for the Wizards to overcome. Nevertheless, it was a valiant effort from an undermanned Wizards team on the road in a tough atmosphere.

Next up for the Wizards is their third matchup in a week against the Heat in Miami on Friday.

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