The Washington Wizards can't beat many teams, but they beat the best: LeBron James and the Miami Heat.
Perhaps inspired by the courtside presence of Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Wizards doubled their victory total this season with a 105-101 win over the Heat on Tuesday night, despite James' triple-double of 26 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
Jordan Crawford led Washington with 22 points, including three free throws in the final 11 seconds, while James missed a potentially tying 3-pointer with 3.9 to go.
While the reigning NBA champion Heat's six-game winning streak ended, and they fell to 12-4, the Wizards improved to 2-13. They started the season 0-12, but have won two of their last three games.
The Wizards have won three consecutive regular-season games against the Heat, including two last season in April.
On Tuesday, with a crowd of 17,761 — not, incidentally, a sellout — standing and screaming down the stretch, relishing that rare chance to witness a compelling game involving the Wizards, Kevin Seraphin contributed 16 points and 10 rebounds. He helped Washington outrebound Miami 44-43.
Dwyane Wade scored 24 for Miami, while Chris Bosh added 20 points and 12 rebounds. Miami made only 8 of 28 attempts on 3-pointers.
After trailing by as many as 12, Miami tied the game at 88 on Bosh's reverse layup with 6 minutes, 50 seconds left. But Crawford's 15-footer put Washington ahead 99-95 with a little more than 2½ minutes remaining.
With 18 seconds left, James wasted a chance to give the Heat the lead, clanking a 3-point attempt. Crawford's free throw then made it 102-99, and he slapped his palms together vociferously. James made a shot in the lane to pull within 102-101, and Crawford added two free throws for a 104-101 edge with 6.9 seconds on the clock.
James then missed his last shot, another 3. Nene got the rebound, and tacked on a free throw.
For those, especially in the D.C. area, who believe Griffin is capable of sports miracles, perhaps his presence might have been taken as a sign that his city's NBA team could pull off the upset.
As Washington's Emeka Okafor stepped to the foul line a little less than 4 minutes into the game, the arena rumbled with some of the loudest, most enthusiastic cheers of the evening. For Okafor? Hardly. No, the buzz was because fans realized that Griffin was in the house, making his way to a front-row seat.
Griffin, who led the Redskins to a 17-16 victory over the New York Giants a night earlier, gave a little wave and big smile moments later when he was shown on the video screens above the court.
"Let's give a warm Wizards welcome to your Redskins quarterback, RG3!" intoned the arena announcer, while the loudspeakers blared the local NFL team's fight song, "Hail to the Redskins."
In the first half, the Wizards led by as many as 10, going up 54-44 on Martell Webster's 3-pointer with about four minutes left in the second quarter. At halftime, Washington was ahead 60-54, led by Crawford's 12 points and A.J. Price's nine.
The Wizards have struggled to score, but they made 58 percent of their field-goal attempts in the first half Tuesday. The Wizards entered averaging an NBA-low 89.4 points, about 15 fewer than the Heat.
Unlike the James-Wade-Bosh Heat, the Wizards are mostly a collection of castoffs and high draft picks who never lived up to their billing — or have yet to, anyway. Their best player, 2010 No. 1 overall pick John Wall, has yet to participate in a practice, let alone play, this season because of a left knee cap injury.
Before the game, Wizards coach Randy Wittman said he can't give an idea of when Wall will be available.
"I mean, right now, we're still progressing the way we are with his rehab. He's not been on the floor to practice. He's been on the floor to shoot some, but he's not progressed to the point that he can get out and practice," Wittman said. "So obviously until that happens, I don't know what that timetable's going to be."
Notes: Wizards F Trevor Ariza left in the third quarter with a strained left calf. ... Wittman went with his fifth different starting lineup of the season, inserting Singleton in place of forward Kevin Seraphin. ... The Heat were without Shane Battier, who is out with a sprained right knee, and Norris Cole, who has a strained groin. "We just want to make sure that doesn't get worse," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said about Cole. "Give him a couple more days' rest."