(Reuters) – The Washington Wizards shrugged off the absence of three frontcourt players to defeat the Miami Heat 114-103 on Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Describing how the Wizards had dismantled what had been the NBA’s No. 1 defense in terms of lowest shooting percentage allowed, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said: “Speed, speed, smaller lineup, smaller lineup, more speed.
“It felt like they were going downhill most of the game, and we couldn’t get them to flatten out.”
The Wizards were without center Marcin Gortat, who was back in Poland with his sick mother, and forwards Nene and Drew Gooden, who both have calf injuries.
In addition, three Wizards played hurt — John Wall (knee), Gary Neal (groin) and Kris Humphries (ankle).
Wall and Neal, though, did not look hurt.
Wall had 26 points and seven assists, and Neal contributed 21 points off the bench.
“John is one of the toughest players I’ve ever seen,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said of Wall.
“It takes a lot for him to miss a game. If you remember last year in the playoffs, it took five broken bones in his hand before he was going to sit out a game.”
Neal, who signed with the Wizards in July, fell just two points off his season high.
“Gary was big off the bench,” Wittman said. “He was probably the most consistent guy we had throughout the game.”