The style matchup with the Miami Heat will almost always be a problem for the Wizards, and Saturday wasn’t any different as they lose for the third time in three meetings in the regular-season home finale, 106-103, at Verizon Center. It was the seventh sellout.
Markieff Morris (21 points), John Wall (16 points, eight assists) and Bradley Beal (16 points) led Washington (48-32), which has two games remaining at the Detroit Pistons and at Miami before the playoffs begin.
The Heat (39-41) kept their playoff hopes alive while Washington lost its grip on the No. 3 seed.
The Wizards couldn’t contain Hassan Whiteside (30 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks), who had help from Tyler Johnson (19 points), Goran Dragic (18 points, seven assists) and James Johnson (15 points, 11 rebounds and five assists).
James Johnson’s drive for a layup was the winning basket that put Miami ahead for good 104-103.
Beal had a chance to tie the score and force overtime at the end but couldn’t get off a clean shot as Whiteside switched onto him to prevent an attempt.
--Turnovers were the difference. Wall and Beal were turnover prone which kept Miami in the game early despite their slow start. They combined for 13 of 20 for the team and that led to 21 points the other way. Before Kelly Oubre's disastrous inbound in the final seconds, the most costly one came on a simple pass from Wall to Beal with 1:43 left. It went out of bounds.
--Otto Porter (back spasms) missed his third game of the seasons as Oubre (12 points, six rebounds) started in his place. Oubre didn’t score in the first half but his primary role was defensive. But where not having Porter hurt the Wizards most was on inbound play with 11 seconds left. He opted to lead Wall, who had gotten free of Richardson, with the pass that was errant. Wall had curled to the ball and Richardson collected it, was fouled and went to the line to make both free throws for the game’s final points.
--The Heat were switching smalls onto Morris. He made them pay for that late by making postups over Tyer Johnson and Josh Richardson (10 points, five steals). Morris scored 12 of his points in the fourth Morris, who missed the last game with a sore ankle, had a three-pointer to give the Wizards a 90-86 lead and tie the score at 100. But when Morris had to get a stop on James Johnson, he allowed the versatile forward to go downhill for what proved to be the winning basket. Johnson received the ball in the backcourt, went full speed and Morris only retreated into the paint. When Johnson made a counter move to get to his left hand, he met no resistance at the rim. Marcin Gortat wasn't able to help as he pinned himself to Whiteside to prevent a putback.
--Dragic scored a season-high 34 points in the last meeting Dec. 12. Marked by Oubre from the opening tip, Dragic had three first-half points as he began 1-for-5. A physical, 6-5 point guard who is left-hand dominant, Dragic couldn’t get free of Oubre who is bigger and has a 7-2 wingspan. He did have a better second half but didn’t take over.
--Whiteside was a matchup problem for Gortat (11 points, 11 rebounds). Ian Mahinmi (11 points, nine rebounds, two steals) played just 18 minutes -- 11 fewer than Gortat -- and fared better.