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Heat slip past Wizards, 'under' connects

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MIAMI (AP) - Extra pass, easy win. It's a tried-and-true formula for the Miami Heat.

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LeBron James scored 25 points, Chris Bosh added 24 and the Heat beat the winless Washington Wizards 103-93 on Sunday night to snap a rare two-game slide.

Dwyane Wade scored 20 points for Miami, which hasn't dropped three straight regular-season games since Jan. 10-13, 2012. The Heat (2-2) had 32 assists on 37 field goals, including on all nine of their baskets in the third quarter.

''That's what we do,'' James said. ''We understand that it's easy for everyone when we move the ball, share the ball and we play like that.''

Including playoffs, the Heat are now 100 games over .500 at home since the start of the 2010-11 season - 127-27. And when collecting at least 25 assists in the Big Three era, they are 58-5.

Of the 10 Heat players who played, nine scored, nine got at least one assist and all 10 grabbed at least one rebound.

''The intensity was better and the consistent ball movement was better than it's been,'' Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Bradley Beal scored 19 points for the Wizards. Marcin Gortat finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds for Washington (0-3), which shot 43 percent and allowed the Heat to convert 21 turnovers into 25 points.

''I thought we battled well,'' Beal said. ''We still had a few breakdowns on defense and didn't make a lot of shots on offense. But we did a great job moving the ball. We just have to knock down shots and limit our turnovers as much as possible.''

Miami's last three-game slide was against Boston in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals, a series the Heat won in seven games.

With two defeats in three games to open this season, Sunday marked only the second time since James, Bosh and Wade teamed up that they took the court with a losing regular-season record. The other was after their first game together in October 2010.

''You can feel it, and it's special when it happens,'' Wade said of having so many assists as a team. ''It just makes the game so much easier.''

Washington's Trevor Ariza got hot to start the fourth, as the Wizards turned what looked like a runaway into a game again. Ariza missed all eight of his shots in the first three quarters, then had four baskets - three of them 3-pointers - in the first 4:48 of the final period as the Wizards got within 91-80.

That got the Heat to take a timeout, and got James back into the game. The Wizards kept chipping away, with Beal scoring and getting fouled with 41.3 seconds left to get his team within 100-93.

Beal missed the free throw, it stayed a three-possession game, and the Wizards let 15 seconds run off the ensuing Miami possession before fouling Bosh. By then, the outcome was clear.

Mario Chalmers had eight assists for the Heat.

Ariza and Martell Webster each scored 13 points for Washington, which got 11 points and nine assists from John Wall.

''This is how we've got to play,'' Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. ''Nobody wants to lose but I thought we took a good step in the right direction.''

Before the game, Spoelstra said the early struggles this season were simply a matter of Miami not clicking at times. That wasn't an issue Sunday.

James got it going early for Miami, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and connecting on all three of his 3-point tries in that period. All five Miami starters got into the scoring act early, and the bench added 12 points in the second quarter as the Heat extended the lead.

About all the Heat could really complain about in this one was the opening minutes, in which they found themselves in a 9-2 deficit, continuing a trend of falling behind early. Miami trailed 9-2 against Chicago at home in the season-opener, then 19-0 (and 26-4) at Philadelphia, then 11-3 at Brooklyn.

Sunday's deficit didn't last long.

A 14-2 run over a 5-minute stretch of the opening quarter put the Heat up by five and the margin grew throughout, starting with 33-27 after 12 minutes, 61-48 at halftime and 87-64 entering the final period.

''We know what works for us,'' Wade said. ''Sometimes we just don't do it.''

NOTES: James ran his double-digit scoring streak to 499 straight regular-season games, going back to January 2007. His teams are 363-136 in those games. ... Wizards F Nene (left calf strain) did not play. ... The Heat are 75-11 in their last 86 regular-season home games. ... Ariza was whistled for a flagrant foul in the third quarter.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

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The Associated Press
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