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Heat top Wizards 121-114 in tournament opener

MIAMI (AP) – New court, new uniforms and, the Miami Heat hope, a new start.

Tyler Herro scored 24 points and was an assist shy of a triple-double, Jimmy Butler added 20 points and the Heat snapped a four-game slide by beating the Washington Wizards 121-114 yesterday.

Herro finished with 10 rebounds and nine assists for Miami. Bam Adebayo and Duncan Robinson each scored 18 for the Heat, who shot 60 per cent.

It was the first In-Season Tournament game for both teams. The Heat – who won on their newly painted red court and ‘Heat Culture’ jerseys – and Wizards are in East Group B along with Milwaukee, New York and Charlotte. The Bucks beat the Knicks 110-105 in the other East B game yesterday.

The Wizards next play a tournament game on November 10 at home against Charlotte; Miami’s next tourney game is on November 14 at Charlotte.

Miami Heat Tyler Herro drives past Washington Wizards Jordan Poole. PHOTO: AP

Kyle Kuzma had 22 points for Washington, which got 19 from Jordan Poole and 14 from Deni Avdija.

The Wizards missed their first shot, then made their next 10 as part of a statistically bonkers opening quarter.

Washington shot 76.5 per cent in the quarter, the best rate in the NBA this season, the Wizards’ best first quarter in their last 295 games (since December 16, 2019) and the highest percentage allowed by the Heat in an opening period since an NBA Finals game against San Antonio on June 10, 2014 – 814 games ago, including playoffs.

Most of that early spree by the Wizards came against Miami’s fifth starting combination in its last five games.

It marked only the third time in Heat history that they’ve used five different lineups in the season’s first six games; it also happened in 1994-95 and again in 2020-21, with the line-up changing in all six games that season.

Haywood Highsmith started at power forward, even though Kevin Love – who didn’t play – was available.

But all those early Wizards makes didn’t even get Washington a lead after 12 minutes: it was 34-34 at the end of the first quarter, and Miami eventually took a 10-point lead before settling for a 60-54 edge at the half.

And then in the third, the Heat took control. Miami outscored Washington 41-27, taking a 101-81 edge into the fourth.

The Heat led by 25 midway through the fourth before Washington – using mostly backups – used a 15-0 run to get within 115-105.

The Wizards have allowed at least 31 points in all five of their third quarters this season. “We allow teams all those big runs in the third,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr said. “We have to figure that out. Give them credit; they came out ready to go in that third quarter.”

The Wizards lost despite shooting 57 per cent. “The offence, definitely good tonight,” Butler said. “Defence, not as much.”