Wizards rally down stretch, top Heat 105-103
MIAMI (AP) One of the biggest reasons why Paul Pierce decided to join the Washington Wizards was because he thought they could be a contender if they learned how to finish games.
He might have been on to something.
John Wall scored 20 points and added 10 assists, Nene scored 20 off the bench and the Wizards rallied to beat the Miami Heat 105-103 on Friday night for their sixth straight win and 11th in their last 12 games.
''I thought the one thing they were lacking was a veteran leader in the locker room,'' Pierce said. ''I'm not the Paul Pierce that has to go out and score 30 every night, I've got these young guns that can come in here, command double-teams and make life easier on me.''
Bradley Beal scored 16 points and made the defensive play of the night by stealing a pass from Miami's Dwyane Wade in the final seconds, denying the Heat - who lost their fifth straight at home - a chance to possibly tie the game. Pierce added 14 for the Wizards.
Wade scored 28 points for Miami, which is now 4-9 at home. Luol Deng scored 19 points, Mario Chalmers had 14 and Udonis Haslem 11 for the Heat.
''Guys played a good game, man. Can't ask for a better game,'' Wade said. ''My teammates came out and played an amazing game. So this one hurts, man. I'll take this one and put it on my shoulders. I've got to do better for my guys. This was a game everyone wanted to win and we had a chance.''
The Heat led by eight in the third, took a 79-76 lead into the final quarter and led by five points midway through the fourth.
It wasn't enough.
Pierce scored on a tip-in to break a 95-95 tie, and after Chalmers was called for an illegal screen on the ensuing Miami possession Wall hit a jumper with 1:01 left to give the Wizards a four-point lead.
Wade hit a 3-pointer with 17 seconds left to get Miami within one, but the Heat never got the lead back. Miami led for the first 20 minutes of the second half, trailed for just 1:54 after halftime, and lost again.
''It hurts,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ''There wasn't a whole lot to say to the team. Guys did play well. They competed ... you have a chance to win going down the stretch, but we weren't able to make enough plays.''
Miami shot a season-best 65 percent in the first half, yet went into the break only up 55-54. Still, it was progress - the first time in four games that Miami would lead at some point in the second half at home.
''We couldn't get stops and they were scoring at will,'' Wall said. ''But in that fourth quarter, we got opportunities to kind of get stops and work our way back into the mix a little bit.''
Wizards: All five Washington starters had exactly two field goals apiece in the first half. ... Pierce returned after missing Tuesday's win over Minnesota with a sore toe on his right foot. ... Nene became the sixth player to score at least 16 points off the Washington bench this season, joining Rasual Butler, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter, Kris Humphries and Kevin Seraphin. ... Now at 19-6, the Wizards have matched the best 25-game start in team history.
Heat: Miami used its 12th starting unit in 27 games, and the third straight different lineup. ... On a layup with 9:46 left in the second quarter, Wade passed Chris Mullin for 65th on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Mullin finished his career with 17,911 points. ... Miami Marlins ace Jose Fernandez sat courtside. ... Haslem had a 5 for 5 (or better) night for the fourth time in his career.
The Memphis and BYU football teams, in town for Monday's inaugural Miami Beach Bowl, were in attendance. Each team had a few players compete in a halftime shooting contest; Memphis' group beat BYU's in a timed race to see who could make a layup, free throw, 3-pointer and half-court shot quickest.
Washington shot 33 free throws to Miami's 19, and the Wizards were called for 10 fewer fouls (27-17).
Wizards: Host Phoenix on Sunday.
Heat: Host Boston on Sunday.