The "killer instinct" isn't there vs. the Milwaukee Bucks. How else to explain the Wizards' struggles in three meetings with the NBA's worst team? But against Monday's opponent, the Miami Heat, finding that extra gear hasn't a problem the last time they met.
The Wizards (33-29), who have won eight of their last nine games, demolished the Heat (43-17) on Jan. 15. It was what John Wall called at the time a "signature" win because the Wizards had trouble beating teams with winning records. They scored 43 points in the first quarter. Their biggest lead was 34 points. They only committed 12 turnovers which kept Miami out of transition.
The Heat were able to cut the deficit to nine several times in the second half but that was to be expected. They've won two consecutive NBA championships. They have LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Still, the Wizards won 114-97.
"We definitely got to be on edge and ready to go from the jump and continue to move the ball on offense and keep shooting the ball the way we've been shooting," said Bradley Beal, who scored five consecutive points late in the fourth quarter after Milwaukee came back from a 28-point deficit to trim the deficit to 104-101.
The Wizards won uncomfortably 114-107 in a game that shouldn't have been that close. Miami is playing the second game of a back-to-back and has lost three in a row.
"We got to learn how to have a killer instinct and put a game away when we can put it away," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman, who alluded to what happened last season when they lost 28 of their first 32 games. "I told some of our young guys that have been here the last three or four years that have been beaten up, nobody cared you were 4-28. They came in to knock the crap out of you. Now we want to see that turned around the other way."