WITH HIS WIZARDS leading the Heat by 15 after two quarters, 37-year-old Paul Pierce implored his younger teammates to put the game away.
"Well, Paul had a joke at halftime," said point guard John Wall. "He said: 'Let me get a rest. Let's get it to like 25, so I can take a break.' "
Wizards coach Randy Wittman offered a simple message, too, asking his players to focus at one particular end of the court.
"I said, 'It's the first team that really comes in and turns the screws defensively,' " Wittman said.
Both Pierce and Wittman got what they wanted. Wall ran the offense to perfection, scoring 18 points and 13 assists, Washington held Miami to 0-for-12 on three-point tries in the second half, and the Wizards beat the visiting Heat, 107-86, last night.
The Wizards went 10-for-19 on three-pointers, including 7-for-7 while taking a 64-49 lead at halftime.
"Probably our best game, from start to finish," said Wittman, whose team improved to 11-5.
Rasual Butler scored 23, and Marcin Gortat added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Wizards, who never trailed and led by 21 in the first half and 25 in the second.
"Whether it's the schemes, whether it's one-on-one, they picked us apart," said Chris Bosh, who led Miami with 21.
Dwayne Wade had 20 in his second game back from an injured right hamstring. "I don't think we've gotten to the defense we've wanted all year," he said. "We're still fairly new; a lot of the guys are still confused at what we're trying to do."
In another game
* At Salt Lake City, Ty Lawson's tiebreaking jumper with 29 seconds left lifted the Denver Nuggets to a 103-101 win over the Utah Jazz. Lawson's 15 points tied for the team high on a night when seven Nuggets scored in double figures.