Dwyane Wade and LeBron James came up with the idea several hours before the game.
If the Miami Heat were going to have a moment of silence to honor the victims of the Connecticut school shooting, then they wanted their own children to share in that solemn tribute.
So several players did exactly that – and maybe it was no coincidence that the Heat came up with one of their most complete showings of the season. James had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and the Heat never trailed on the way to beating the Washington Wizards 102-72 on Saturday night.
”We were focused on the game,” Wade said. ”We had heavy hearts for the families that dealt with the tragedy. But we had to play basketball, and … for our fans and our family we had to come out here and do our job.”
And that’s exactly what the Heat did.
Wade and Udonis Haslem each scored 13 for Miami, which outscored Washington 29-10 in the third quarter to build a 33-point lead. James had 16 points alone in the third, ensuring he would finish with at least 20 points for the 26th straight regular-season game and 42nd consecutive game overall dating to last season.
Chris Bosh added 12 points for the Heat, who turned 21 turnovers into 30 points.
”We worked the game,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”Regardless of who was in the game, what the score was, work our game. Let’s try to get back to our identity and be consistent. … You should have some of these games where you jump on teams and you’re able to sustain it.”
Bradley Beal scored 19 points and Cartier Martin added 18 for the Wizards, who beat the Heat 105-101 in Washington on Dec. 4.
This one went much differently.
Consider: By halftime, Miami already had 50 points. Through three quarters, Washington still only had 46.
”I didn’t know what we were running half the time,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. ”Credit to Miami. They came out and put pressure on us and we didn’t handle their pressure. I don’t know what we were doing from an offensive standpoint.”
It was an emotional day in Miami, as it has been at just about every U.S. sports venue since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. on Friday sent shock waves across the country. Several Heat players spoke about how the massacre that left 20 children and six adults dead at an elementary school affected them, and before tipoff on Saturday, Miami held a moment of silence.
The added twist was the presence of the kids: Several Heat players brought their children onto the court for that moment, with Bosh holding his son Jackson to his chest.
”I couldn’t imagine being in the position some people are in right now,” Bosh said. ”It wasn’t like they were dropping their kids off in a dangerous situation. It was school.”
Once the game started, Miami was all business.
Miami held Washington to 29 percent from the field in the opening quarter, ran out to a quick 16-point lead and never yielded control. Jordan Crawford made a 3-pointer for the Wizards early in the second to cut the Miami lead to 28-22, but after that, it was all Heat.
”We kind of turned into putty tonight,” Wittman said.
By halftime, it was 50-36, and Wade set James up for an easy basket with 4:35 left in the third to push the Heat margin to 69-40. After that, the only drama remaining revolved around whether James would extend his streak of 20-point games, with everyone in the building knowing that he would be sitting out the entire fourth quarter of the runaway game.
He got there, and then some.
James went on a personal 8-0 run to end the third, finishing his night with a flourish. A turnaround jumper with 1:56 left in the third started the end-of-quarter flurry, followed by a pull-up jumper on the next possession to give him 19 points.
And when Ray Allen controlled a Norris Cole-versus-Beal jump ball, he flung it down court to James, who collected the pass and made a layup to pass that 20-point plateau once again. For good measure, James made one more 17-footer late in the quarter, going to the bench for good when the period ended.
”We came out and set a tone early on,” Wade said. ”And everyone followed.”