Miami Heat vs. Washington Wizards: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistDecember 5, 2012

Miami Heat vs. Washington Wizards: Postgame Grades and Analysis for Miami

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    Tuesday night, the Washington Wizards stole a 105-101 victory from the Miami Heat on the strength of hot shooting and aggressive work in the paint, and have now won three straight games over the Heat.

    The Heat dropped a pair of late-season contests to the Wizards last year, but those games barely featured the Big 3, as Miami had the luxury of resting its stars before the postseason.

    This time, Miami was at full strength, but will now leave Washington feeling a little weaker.

    LeBron James notched his first triple-double since the 2010-11 season, finishing with 26 points, 11 assists and 13 rebounds. Unfortunately for the Heat, the bench failed to pull its weight and the team, as a whole, couldn't match the intensity of the hungry Wizards.

    The Heat fell to 12-4, while the Wizards won just their second game of the year, moving to 2-13.

    There's sure to be plenty of fallout in Miami from the disappointing loss, so we'll get things started by checking out grades for every key Heat player.

Point Guard: Mario Chalmers

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    After failing to show up on the stat sheet (except for two personal fouls) in the first quarter, Mario Chalmers' night didn't get much better.

    He went to the locker room clutching his left hand after receiving a seemingly harmless pass from Ray Allen in the second quarter. X-rays were negative, but Chalmers never returned to the game, a victim of a jammed left ring finger.

    With Norris Cole also unavailable, coach Erik Spoelstra started second-year shooting guard Terrel Harris in Chalmers' spot in the second half.

    Chalmers has to be a little disappointed with his abbreviated effort against Washington, but on the bright side, at least he can't be blamed for A.J. Price's stellar shooting night. The Wizards point guard put up 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

    Final Grade: Incomplete

Shooting Guard: Dwyane Wade

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    Coming off a season-high 34 points against the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday, Dwyane Wade looked fresh in the first quarter against the Wizards.

    However, after starting out by cutting decisively and attacking the rim, Wade tailed off as the game wore on.

    Overall, Wade finished with 24 points on 19 shots and really never factored into the game down the stretch. As the No. 2 option, Wade continued to struggle to create easy looks. As has been the case for much of the season, he forced a number of contested tries with little success.

    Aside from being set up by James early on, Wade really couldn't get anything going. If he'd been able to provide any scoring in the fourth quarter, Miami might not have suffered its most disappointing loss of the year.

    Final Grade: C+

Small Forward: Rashard Lewis

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    Can you say non-factor? Rashard Lewis got the start in place of an injured Shane Battier, but he certainly didn't do a strong impression of Miami's cerebral role player.

    If we were talking about Battier, a scoreless game might not necessarily mean poor play. With him, defense and smart decisions can still abound when the scoring column shows a goose egg. For Lewis, though, a failure to score basically means he didn't affect the game in any way.

    Overall, Lewis played only 14.5 minutes and contributed only two assists and two rebounds. Not good, Rashard.

    Not good.

    Final Grade: F

Power Forward: LeBron James

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    LeBron James really has this "quiet dominance" thing down to a science. Unfortunately for his Miami Heat, he stayed a little too quiet down the stretch. There were few highlights for King James, but he completely controlled the game until fading late. It's tough to explain, but his triple-double somehow seemed...nonchalant.

    Playing the role of facilitator for the team, LBJ set up on the block early and often to conduct Miami's offense. When he felt like it, James also scored with ease down low, but seemed satisfied to take a backseat in the early going.

    Overall, James was immensely effective, but he does deserve a "shame on you" for a few critical failures:

    -He didn't shoot his first foul shot until the 4:09 mark in the third quarter, finishing with just three trips to the line. Most notably, he missed a pair from the stripe with 2:30 left in the game that could have brought Miami within two points.

    -With less than a minute remaining and the Heat down three, James missed an open three.

    -James had another open three with four seconds remaining that could have tied the game. He missed that one, too.

    It's hardly fair to ask James to do more when he tosses up 26 points, 11 assists, 13 rebounds, two blocks and three steals, but if he hadn't taken such a passive approach early on, Miami might not have lost this game.

    Final Grade: A-

Center: Chris Bosh

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    Chris Bosh continued his successful cameo as a center, leading Miami in the first half with 14 points and eight rebounds. His ability to stretch the floor gave Washington's bigs plenty of trouble early on.

    It wasn't an especially consistent effort, though—Bosh vanished in the third quarter, going scoreless and pulling down just a single board.

    Bosh came back to life in the fourth, including a game-tying layup that brought the Heat back to even for the first time since the second quarter. But his stellar line of 20 points, 12 rebounds and four assists on 8-of-11 shooting wasn't enough.

    There's no question that the decision to go with Bosh at center is paying off (Miami is four points per 100 possessions better on defense when he's on the floor this year), but he simply has to find a way to stay involved in the offense more consistently.

    Miami suffered mightily during the prolonged stretches in which he disappeared.

    Final Grade: B

Sixth Man: Ray Allen

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    Allen entered the game midway through the first quarter, but essentially disappeared until he hit a three-pointer toward the end of the period. That seemed to get him going, as No. 34 proceeded to do exactly what sixth men are supposed to: provide a scoring spark.

    As Miami struggled in the second and third quarters to stay within single digits of the surprising Wizards, Allen's shooting was critical. His pair of made threes during a tough stretch helped keep the Heat within striking distance.

    But that was just about the extent of Allen's helpful contributions.

    He couldn't buy a bucket in the game's late stages, finishing with 11 points on a woeful 4-of-12 from the field. He made just 3-of-9 from long range, despite a number of wide-open opportunities created by James.

    Unsurprisingly, the Heat's sharpshooter hardly contributed otherwise (just one assist and one rebound), but he's not in Miami to do anything besides drill open threes.

    In addition to the poor shooting that marked Allen's night, he had to play 35 minutes against a bottom-feeding Wizards team. In order to preserve his legs for the stretch run, Miami needs to take care of business much earlier against teams like Washington so Allen and the rest of the Heat's big guns can enjoy the fourth quarter from the comfort of the bench.

    Final Grade: C-


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    Miami's bench didn't show up Tuesday night, and it cost the Heat a game they should have easily won.

    Udonis Haslem must have had his hands bronzed before the game, because he simply couldn't catch the basketball, costing LeBron James a handful of sure assists.

    Mike Miller scored 11 points in relief of an ineffective Rashard Lewis, leading Miami's bench unit. However, Miller failed to produce when it counted, missing two wide-open looks from long distance when the Heat desperately needed a bucket in the fourth quarter. Miller's out there to do one thing, and although he hit 3-of-8 threes, he couldn't get one to fall when it mattered.

    Other than that, the rest of Miami's bench managed just nine points. Joel Anthony had six in nine minutes, while Terrel Harris had three points on 1-of-4 shooting in relief of the injured Mario Chalmers.

    On the whole, the Heat reserves shot 12-for-32 and had almost as many fouls (11) as rebounds (14). There's no doubt they miss Norris Cole and Shane Battier, but there's no excuse for such a weak showing against the lowly Wizards.

    Final Grade: D