Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal made their usual contributions
to the 128-113 victory Friday night, but a new face in the
one-sided rivalry made his presence known. Antoine Walker, who has
been trying to find his niche in the Heat rotation, had 21 points,
13 rebounds and five assists off the bench and exclaimed "I'm
back!" after hitting a 3-pointer.
"I'm just trying to be as productive as possible," said
Walker, who was acquired in a 13-player trade in August and entered
the game averaging a career-low 12.1 points. "Every game is going
to be different. It's very hard for me to say how it's going to
work out or how it's going to go. We're only 30 games into the
season and without a lot of practice time it's hard for coach to
just completely change things."
Wade scored 34 points and made 18 of 21 free throws, and O'Neal
had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who shot 55 percent and
pulled away in the fourth quarter for their highest scoring output
of the season. Stopping those two players is tough enough, but
Walker's big game meant the team could always find someone with a
"He was feeling real free, and we need that from him," coach
Pat Riley said. "That's what we expected when we traded for him,
is that we'd have that versatility. Having a great game from
Antoine really helps."
Going by the book, the wrong team ran out of gas. The Heat were
the stronger team down the stretch despite playing the second half
of a tough back-to-back following Thursday's 106-101 loss at
Arenas made 15 of 29 field goals and 13 of 14 free throws and
carried his team through three quarters, but he went 1-for-6 in the
fourth as part of a team-wide 5-for-22 slump. Wade left the crowd
gasping after he blew past Antonio Daniels for a one-handed dunk,
then Walker's 3-pointer started a 12-0 run that put the Heat ahead
111-98 with 5:42 to play.
"I tried to carry us early," Arenas said, "and we just
couldn't get over the hump."
Arenas didn't get much help. Antawn Jamison added 20 points, but
he made only 7 of 19 shots. Caron Butler scored 19 points on
4-for-15 shooting for the Wizards, who have lost two straight after
winning their first three since Butler was promoted to the starting
"They're just a hard team for us to defend right now and
beat," coach Eddie Jordan said. "They're better than us right
Michael Jordan was still playing the last time Washington beat
Miami, 91-87 on April 11, 2003. The Heat have won all 10 regular
season meetings since, and they also swept the Wizards in the
second round of the playoffs last season.
"We're going to beat them once," Arenas said. "That's all it
takes -- is one time. We're just going to keep fighting and fighting
and fighting until we get 'em. That's all we can do."
There was hardly time to take a breath in a fast-paced game that
featured dynamic drives by Arenas and Wade, inside-outside
determination from Walker and the usual inside dominance from
Walker had a torrid stretch in the first half, scoring 14 points
and grabbing eight rebounds in 12 minutes. O'Neal got the calls in
the paint throughout the game, drawing plenty of contact as he went
11-for-15 from the field and 6-for-13 from the line. Arenas matched
his previous career best of 44 points with 3:57 to go in the third
quarter on a three-point play in which he pumped his fist and let
out a "Wooo!" as his runner dropped through the net.
But he took no solace from setting a personal record.
"I didn't help the team out in the fourth quarter," he said.
Before the game, Riley was asked if he has changed as a
coach. "I've changed, but I'm not going to tell you how," he
said. "It's a little bit stratospherically philosophical." ...
Jordan said he's not going to pull the reins on Jamison's
long-range jumpshot, even though the forward has hit only 2 of 15
3-point attempts over the last six games. "As a coach, you sit
there and you say 'I hope that's the one that goes in.' I just
can't tell Antawn Jamison, who's an All-Star, not to take
3-pointer," Jordan said.