John Wall played with a broken left wrist and hand in last season's playoff, so as long as he didn't have any structural damage he was all but certain to play in Monday's game against the Miami Heat.
Wall got the Wizards (9-10) out to a good start as they led by as many as 14. He shot 9 of 13 for a game-high 26 points and seven assists as they finished with an 11-0 run to win 114-103 at American Airlines Arena.
Miami (12-7) erased a 99-91 deficit when Dwyane Wade's drive for a layup tied the score at 101. With it tied at 103, after Bradley Beal failed to finish on a drive over Chris Bosh, Beal ripped the ball from Wade and dunked for a lead the Wizards would never relinquish again.
The Wizards had six players in double figures, with 21 for Beal and Gary Neal, Otto Porter's 13 points, career-high 14 rebounds and four assists, and 12 each for Jared Dudley and Ramon Sessions.
Goran Dragic had 20 points and nine assists and Bosh had 18 and nine. Hassan Whiteside had 14 points.
The trapping defense the Wizards used in the first quarter rattled supposedly the better defensive team, forcing the Heat into 17 turnovers.
Wall logged 38 minutes after he collided with Jeremy Evans in a home game on Sunday, having to be carried off the court because they slammed knees. Tests were negative and Wall only had a bruise. The knee, he said, previously was bruised which is why it was so painful.
Wall warmed up quickly and the Wizards shot 50% from three-point range (9 of 18) and overall (46 of 92). The Heat shot 59.4% (41 of 69) but just 31.2% from three (5 of 16).
When the Heat made their run to tie it late, Wall scored six points to sustain Washington for the finish. Neal's three-pointer in the final 90 seconds sealed it as the Heat came unglued and Bosh was ejected for arguing with officials.
- Neal's shot-making is one thing, but what he did off the dribble was every bit as important. Neal was so hot making 7 of 8 that the Heat ran numbers at him. Neal put the ball on the floor and got into the lane and hit open shooters on pass outs. When he found Dudley wide open at the arc, the Wizards regained a lead they'd lost 85-84. Neal had four assists and two steals.
- This is why Ryan Hollins, a long, athletic 7-footer signed last week. The Wizards need rim protection and he did it in 14 minutes as he tallied four points and five rebounds. Bosh was short on a jump hook at the rim because of Hollins' challenge, Wade missed when he went straight up on help defense and an offensive rebound led to a shot for Porter that put him on the foul line. Hollins kept the ball alive for another possession on a miss, and his trap of Dragic forced a turnover and led to a dunk for Wall and a 20-12 lead. When the Wizards got their first field goal to start the third quarter, it was Hollins' solid screen on Bosh that freed Beal to get to the rim for a dunk. Hollins didn't play much in the second half but he's not here to log starter's minutes or post double-doubles. He did his job in his best game so far.
- Wade was a terror in the mid-post despite overall good defense by the Wizards. Whether it was Porter or Beal, he was able to get to the mid-post and score three consecutive baskets late in the second quarter when Miami made its run to trim the deficit to 60-55 by halftime. Wade hit fadeways, stepbacks and got to the rim. He made 12 of 15 shots and had nine assists. He'll be an unrestricted free agent next summer and with play like this even at an advanced age he'll get plenty of takers if his asking price is right.
- The small-ball style that wasn't as effective late against the Dallas Mavericks did the trick in this one. Whiteside was neutralized, only getting four rebounds and coach Erik Spoelstra pulled him for the entire fourth quarter (something the Wizards have had to do the past with Marcin Gortat). The Wizards' fast-paced offense pushed the ball off of makes by Miami, beating the bigs down the court as Wall, Beal and Sessions were able to get layups. When used intelligently, it's an effective way to play to neutralize teams when undersized. Spoelstra went with rookie guard Justise Winslow for all but seven seconds of the fourth as a counter, but he's an offensively liability which worked in the Wizards' favor because that was one less offensive threat to account for in the Wizards' switch-and-scramble coverages.
- Porter's shot still isn't there (5-for-15) but he made up for it by grabbing eight rebounds in the first quarter alone. He ended up with 10 more than Whiteside. This is why small ball can work and frankly it fits Porter's style. He's a blue-collar player who makes his bread and butter this way. Porter added four assists, two steals and a blocked shot. But the three-point shots remain there (0-for-2) though he has only made one in the last five games. Not to be overlooked, Porter ran out to the corner to close out Dragic from the three-point line with 1:32 left in the game. Unable to free himself off the dribble, Dragic pushed off Porter for an offensive foul. Then came Neal's dagger for a 108-103 lead.