WASHINGTON DC (CBSMiami/SportsDirect) – The Miami Heat continue to be a team that is finding its identity.READ MORE: Teen Seriously Hurt in Major Car Crash in Lauderhill
The Heat ended 2015 in disappointing fashion with a pair of tight losses but began 2016 with a much stronger effort in a dominating home win.
The Heat will try to bring that effort out on the road when they visit the Washington Wizards on Sunday.
Miami got a strong performance on both ends to kick off the new year, holding the Dallas Mavericks to 36.4 percent from the field while going off at 56.1 percent offensively in the 106-82 victory.
“Our offense isn’t necessarily where we want it to be, but I love where it’s going,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra told reporters. “You can see guys starting to get more comfortable, more aggressive and learning how they can be who they are, while at the same time sharing the game and making the game easier for their teammates.”
The Wizards kicked off the new year and a four-game homestand by topping the Orlando Magic 103-91 on Friday to snap a two-game slide.
Washington posted 91 points in each of the two losses but got another strong performance from John Wall in breaking out of the funk.
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ABOUT THE HEAT (19-13): Hassan Whiteside is consistently the anchor on the defensive end but also did his part on the other side of the floor with 25 points on 12-of-16 shooting to go with 19 rebounds on Friday.
“Hassan was a force in the paint,” Spoelstra told reporters. “He was just so aggressive. Look, this offense is going to happen in layers. What we’re trying to develop is a team that shares the game and understands how each guy can help and be aggressive, help the team.”
Whiteside had managed just five points before fouling out in Tuesday’s 99-90 loss at Memphis.
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (15-16): Wall went for 24 points and 13 assists on Friday, giving him an eighth straight double-double and 11 in the last 12 games.
That run began after a 114-103 win at Miami on Dec. 7, in which the star point guard scored 26 points but managed only seven assists.
Wall is averaging 22.6 points and 11.7 assists in 17 games since the beginning of December to keep Washington scraping along near the .500 mark despite injuries to Bradley Beal (leg), Drew Gooden (calf), Nene (calf), DeJuan Blair (knee) and Gary Neal (quad).
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- Gooden made a brief return to the lineup on Friday but exited with discomfort in the calf and will undergo an MRI.
- Miami G Dwyane Wade (dehydration) came off the bench on Friday and was limited to 19 minutes.
- Washington F Otto Porter Jr. scored at least 20 points in three straight games.
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