Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra summed up the efforts of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade in three words: 'Video game numbers,' he said.
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MIAMI -- At this point, the Miami Heat are willing to take it against any opponent.
It didn’t matter they were aggressive in the rebounding department against the lowly Washington Wizards. This was no time to focus on the opposition.
It was more about the Heat showing they could indeed dominate on the boards. After a recent stretch of poor rebounding, they saw improvement in a 99-71 victory against the Wizards Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena. The Heat closed with a 21-0 run, holding the Wizards scoreless the final 7:07.
“That was a good bounce-back game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “I really don’t believe the score was indicative of how competitive it was. Washington was keeping it pretty tight for a while but for the most part, coming off our last game, it’s good to bounce back with this.”
The Heat out-rebounded the Wizards 40-29, including a strong performance from center Chris Bosh. He had received the bulk of the criticism when the Heat rebounded poorly against the Orlando Magic and in Friday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls.
Bosh finished with 17 points and nine rebounds. LeBron James led the Heat with 24 points and seven assists. He has now scored at least 20 points in 36 straight regular-season games. Ray Allen added 20 points and Mike Miller scored 13 off the bench.
“It’s important every night to be honest,” Bosh said. “We can only take care of tonight. That’s an emphasis that we always have. Sometimes we’re going to come up short.”
To keep the emphasis, Bosh jokingly said he will count his rebounds during the game until the problem goes away.
“It was nine today,” Bosh said. “It’s a start. Now, I’ve got to get nine the next game, maybe even 10. I’m not a numbers guy, but for the sake of it I will be for a little while and just count them.”
Although it wasn’t exactly dominating, it was a step in the right direction with the Heat about to begin a six-game road trip that includes five stops on the West Coast. They received the collective rebounding effort they covet, with Udonis Haslem, Dwyane Wade, Allen and even Mario Chalmers contributing.
Haslem finished with a season-high 12 rebounds. Seven players had at least three rebounds.
“(Rebounding) is a major emphasis every night,” said Wade, who finished with 14 points. “Udonis played 28 minutes. He was the rebounder he’s always been, getting 12 rebounds. Everyone else did their job. The biggest thing was coming back. Guys did a great job of boxing out. That enabled us to be able to most of the game stay (ahead) 10, 8 until we were able to put it away.”
The aggression on the boards limited the Wizards to just four second-chance points. It was the complete opposite of their effort against the Bulls, where the Heat allowed 20 points off offensive rebounds.
“The disposition to rebound was better than it was against Chicago,” Spoelstra said. “Getting on the floor for a loose ball, making a cut harder, second and third efforts, all these things you can’t take for granted. Effort plays, if they were that easy, everybody would do it. Hustle is a talent.”
About the only scare for the Heat was when James went down with an ankle injury midway through the third quarter. James never left the game, calling the injury minor. It was the latest ache for James, who is also dealing with a sore right knee that made him a game-time decision against the Bulls.
“Just add it to the list,” James said. “But I’ll be ready for the next one.”
The Heat led by seven entering the fourth quarter before taking control. They opened with a 7-0 run, capped with Allen’s jumper that made it 76-62 with 9:55 left. The Wizards made one final push, pulling to within 78-71 on Jordan Crawford’s basket.
It would be the Wizards’ final points.
“We came in with a focus,” Allen said. “Defensively was something we really wanted to clamp down on.”
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