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Injury-Riddled Heat Face Wizards
Posted Dec 15 2006 4:12PM
The Washington Wizards may have their best chance to end a lengthy losing streak to the Miami Heat when the teams meet Friday at the Verizon Center.
Wade, who averages a team-high 28.0 points, missed his first game of the season Wednesday as Miami lost 99-89 to Phoenix. Last season's NBA Finals MVP had his wisdom teeth removed Tuesday and did not fly with the team to Washington.
O'Neal missed his 17th game of the season Wednesday as he continues to recover from surgery to repair torn knee cartilage, and isn't expected back for a few more weeks.
Wade was still in college and O'Neal was playing for the Los Angeles Lakers the last time the Heat lost to the Wizards, 91-87 on April 11, 2003.
``We're definitely looking to break that streak,'' Washington center Brendan Haywood said. ``We definitely have a great opportunity, but it's about making the most out of it.''
Wizards star Gilbert Arenas averaged 32.3 points in four losses to Miami last season, including a career-high 47 in a 128-113 defeat last Dec. 30. Washington shot less than 40 percent in three of those games.
Arenas scored 34 points in Wednesday's 120-91 victory of Denver, the Wizards' fourth win in five games. The two-time All-Star has scored 30 or more points in each of the last five contests, averaging 36.6 in that span.
Washington improved to 8-3 at home with Wednesday's win, getting 34.4 points from Arenas in those games.
Following Friday's contest, the Wizards (10-11) open a four-game road trip against Western Conference opponents. Washington is 2-8 on the road, and Arenas is averaging 21.1 points in those contests.
``We really want to defend home court as much as possible,'' said Caron Butler, who had a season-high 26 points with nine rebounds and seven assists against the Nuggets. ``Hopefully we can get to .500, and play with pride against Miami.''
The Heat have alternated wins and losses in their last eight games, and nearly erased a 25-point fourth-quarter deficit in the loss to the Suns.
Phoenix led 88-63 with 9:52 left before Miami scored 17 straight points and went on to outscore the Suns 22-2 over a 6 1/2-minute stretch to draw within five.
``The only thing we can do is play as hard as we can and just compete,'' guard Chris Quinn said. ``That is what it comes down to every game of the year''
Udonis Haslem scored 14 points on Wednesday after going scoreless in 33 minutes of Miami's win over Toronto on Monday. Alonzo Mourning, who has been starting for O'Neal, scored a season-high 19 points against Phoenix.
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