With seven inactive players that included All-Star Bradley Beal and only three dressed with at least eight years of NBA experience, the Washington Wizards utilized the “next man up” mentality Monday against the Miami Heat.
It worked as they defeated the Miami Heat 123-105 before a near-sold-out crowd of more than 20,000 for the last game of 2019 at Capital One Arena in northwest D.C.
Two Wizards players scored career highs in points – Ian Mahinmi with 25 and Garrison Mathews chipped in with 28 off the bench. Matthews, a rookie from Lipscomb University in Tennessee, remains one of two two-way players on the Wizards roster and on the team’s G League affiliate, Capital City Go-Go.
Wizards forward Jordan McRae also came off the bench to lead all scorers with 29 points.
“I thought everybody chipped in,” said Wizards head coach Scott Brooks. “Guys were playing hard. It’s a good win for us. It’s one of those wins you don’t want the year to end.”
Brooks said it’s possible a few guys could return within a week, including Beal, who missed a second straight game with a sore right leg.
Rookie Rui Hachimura sat again with a groin injury suffered Dec. 16 against the Detroit Pistons. The timetable for his return is unclear.
Washington (10-22) had an 18-point lead in the third quarter and forced Miami to commit six of its 19 turnovers in the quarter.
Miami (24-9), which sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, came into the District on a five-game winning streak. The Heat lost only its third game against Eastern Conference opponents.
Jimmy Butler led Miami with 27 points and Bam Adebayo recorded a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.
As for the Wizards’ golden offensive night, Mahinmi thanked the team’s training staff for keeping him healthy during parts of the season. Playing in his 13th season, he also understands Monday is one game and consistency remains the key for improvement.
“I just wanted to be more aggressive. Obviously, we are missing a lot of key guys,” said Mahinmi, who shot 10-for-11 from the floor. “This is a part of like building character. This is one game. The season is long. The season is full of ups and down, but at the same time, you have to enjoy times like this. There’s still a lot of games ahead of us.”
Washington will continue a six-game homestand with its first game in 2020 on Wednesday against the Orlando Magic (14-19).