It was the classic “Us Against The World“ speech and Randy Wittman played it up big.
Before facing the NBA’s defending champions and the league’s reigning MVP, Wittman closed his locker room door, stood in front of his basement-dwelling team and told his players what they already knew.
“The only people who really think you have a chance tonight is us here, right in this room,” Wittman told the 1-13 Wizards before they took the floor against the 11-3 Miami Heat.
“They ain’t got a chance to win this game. That’s what people were saying. We all listen and hear it on the street. These guys, it bothers them. And I said, ‘This would be a hell of a statement game.
“It sure was.”
Led by Jordan Crawford’s 22 points, Kevin Seraphin’s 16 points and 10 rebounds and Martell Webster’s 13 points (seven in the final quarter), the Wizards shocked the Heat with a 105-101 victory in front of 17,761 fans at Verizon Center.
The Wizards recorded a season-high 31 assists and tied their season high in shooting percentage (48.1) to earn their second victory of the season and turn LeBron James and the Heat into believers.
“They were up for it,” said James, who led the Heat with 26 points but missed a pair of crucial free throws with 2:30 remaining, along with a 3-point attempt that would have tied it with 3.9 seconds on the clock.
“This isn’t a lesson for us; it’s just a loss. That’s all it is. We’ve seen and been through everything, so we don’t need a loss to teach us a lesson to do better.”
The only blemish in the Wizards’ win was that Trevor Ariza had to leave the game midway through the third quarter with a calf strain. That forced Wittman to use Webster and Kevin Seraphin on James and Shaun Livingston on Dwyane Wade, who finished with 24 points but just three in the final quarter.
“It’s hard not to get caught watching those guys when they’re going one-on-one because they’re special players,” said Livingston, who finished with six points and four assists in 25 minutes. “But we focused on what we were doing and hit our shots at the end.”
It made for a memorable night of hoops in the District, and among the guests of honor was Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who orchestrated a win over the defending champion New York Giants 24 hours earlier.
So what will this win mean for the Wizards?
“It won’t exactly turn the season around if we don’t continue to work,” Crawford said. “But it shows we can beat the best teams out there.”