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Heat 99, Wizards 90

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MIAMI — The two-time NBA champion Miami Heat snapped a rare three-game losing streak, beating the Washington Wizards 99-90 on Monday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Forward LeBron James led the Heat with 23 points, seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals. However, he did not shoot a free throw for the second straight game, the first time that has happened since his rookie year.

Heat guard Dwyane Wade, playing on back-to-back nights despite his sore knees for just the third time in 12 opportunities this season, looked fresh in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 of his 22 points.

Wade has scored more than 20 points in seven of his past eight games.

Heat forward Chris Bosh added 22 points. It was the fifth time this season that the Heat’s “Big Three” — James, Wade and Bosh — each scored 20 or more points.

The Heat (44-17) trails the Indiana Pacers by one game in the battle for the best record in the Eastern Conference. But the teams are tied in the loss column.

Miami has won six straight home games, but their three-game skid on the road was a bit alarming for a team of their stature. It was only their second three-game skid of the season. Had they lost four in a row, it would have been their longest skid since March of 2011.

The Wizards (33-30) entered Monday on an 8-1 run, although only one of their victims during that stretch — Toronto — had a winning record.

Miami snapped the Wizards’ five game road win streak. The last time Washington won six straight road games was in December of 2001.

Still, the Wizards are the only team in the NBA with more road wins (17) than home victories (16).

Washington was led Monday by center Marcin Gortat, who had 14 points and a game-high 18 rebounds. In addition, shooting guard Bradley Beal had 18 points.

James, after two poor shooting games on the road, came out on fire, making his first three shots — all from 3-point range — in the first five minutes.

The Heat outshot the Wizards 68.8 percent to 29.0 percent in the first quarter, but the Wizards trailed only 31-23 because of the way they rebounded. Gortat had seven of the Wizards’ 11 offensive rebounds. The Heat had no offensive rebounds.

Washington played Miami to a 22-22 standoff in the second quarter. The shooting percentages were virtually even, and the Heat did a much better job controlling the boards — Washington got just two offensive boards.

James, meanwhile, showed his versatility. After shooting only 3-pointers — and not missing — in the first period, James went exclusively inside the arc in the second. At one point, he scored 10 straight Heat points and finished the half with 19.

The Heat led 53-45 at halftime, but the Wizards surged ahead with a 23-11 third-quarter run. The Heat — even though James was held to two points in the quarter — responded, and the teams headed to the fourth tied 73-73.

NOTES: The Heat rested backup C Greg Oden (knees) on Monday. … Heat F LeBron James, one of the most efficient players in the league, shot just 14 of 41 in Miami’s past two road games, San Antonio and Chicago. … Before Monday’s game, here is what James had to say on Wizards PG John Wall: “We need to set our defense on him because he’s one of the fastest guys in the league.” … Wizards C Marcin Gortat, a 6-foot-11, 240-pounder, told TrueHoop he believes the NBA should act more like the NHL and allow players to fight for 15 to 20 seconds before referees can break it up. … Heat G DeAndre Liggins played for Sioux Falls on Sunday in the NBA’s Development League but was back with Miami on Monday. … Up next, the Wizards return home to face Charlotte on Wednesday. … The Heat’s four-game homestand continues with Brooklyn on Wednesday, Denver on Friday and Houston on Sunday.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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