The Wizards (2-13) never trailed after the first quarter and set season-highs in assists (31), field goal percentage (48.1), points in regulation. They even showed a little attitude with less than two minutes and remaining and James, the three-time MVP, at the foul line with the Wizards leading by four. Reserve guard Jordan Crawford walked directly in front James, clapping his hands to distract him.
“Make him think about it a little bit,” Crawford said afterward.
It was a scene reminiscent of the 2006 playoffs when James, then with Cleveland, once tapped Gilbert Arenas across the chest, psyching him out of two free throws that resulted in a series-ending loss for the Wizards. James missed both free throws on Tuesday, which meant that fans would get free Chick-Fil-A sandwiches (any time an opposing player misses two straight free throws in the fourth quarter, the promotion kicks in), but they were also excited because the Wizards were closing in on the improbable.
After so-many close calls this season, the downtrodden team displayed some cockiness and a little gamesmanship.
“Confidence is key,” Crawford said after posting team highs with 22 points and six assists. “It’s easy to get pumped for this, a game against the best players and I think it’s going to help us for the rest of the season, because everybody is gaining confidence in themselves and making us a better team.”
Miami’s all-star trio of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh combined for 70 points, but the Wizards helped keep the rest of the Heat players in check. The Heat (12-4) also struggled from beyond the three-point line, missed 20 of its 28 attempts from long distance, including five in a row after former Wizard Mike Miller made a three-pointer that brought his team within 97-95 with 4 minutes 16 seconds left.
James had his first triple-double of the season with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists but he missed a three-pointer that could’ve tied the score with 3.9 seconds remaining.