Mathews, an undrafted guard from tiny Lipscomb University, scored 28 points in his 11th NBA game to help the depleted Wizards beat the Miami Heat 123-105 on Monday night. Still, he doubted the fans were yelling for him.
“I thought they were saying, ‘Go Heat,'” Mathews said.
Mathews played big minutes because the Wizards were missing leading scorer Bradley Beal. Jordan McRae and Ian Mahinmi, also filling in for key members of the rotation, had big games for Washington as well. McRae scored a season-high 29 points and Mahinmi had a career-best 25.
McRae, a third-year player, and Mahinmi, a 13-year veteran, enjoyed nights to remember against Miami (24-9), which had its five-game winning streak snapped. The Heat entered with the second-best record in the East and lost for just the third time in 20 games against conference opponents.
"We were a step behind and playing on our heels," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We end up fouling or just getting beat off the dribble too many times.”
“It shows how tough this league can be night to night," Spoelstra said. "Anything you do before doesn’t guarantee what’s going to happen in the future.”
Mathews, whose previous NBA high was six points, scored 20 in the second quarter. Mahinmi had 19 in the first half as Washington (10-22) took a 71-63 lead at the break and won going away. Mahinmi shot 10 for 11 from the field.
“We were completely destroyed at both ends,” Miami guard Goran Dragic said. "Our offense was not there. Our defense was not even slightly there. It was tough.”
Heat: Allowed a season-high 42 points in the second quarter. ... End the decade with a 488-319 record (.605), best in the Eastern Conference. ... Lost for the first time after five wins against Southeast Division opponents. ... Lost for the first time in 22 games when outrebounding their opponents.
Wizards: Beal sat out for the second consecutive game with soreness in his lower right leg. “Getting better,” coach Scott Brooks said. “Anticipate him practicing (Tuesday), and we'll see how he feels.” Brooks hopes Beal can return for Wednesday's game against Orlando. ... C Thomas Bryant missed his 14th straight game with a stress reaction in his right foot. Brooks said Bryant could be back next week. He'll practice with the G-League Capital City Go-Go in the next few days.
McRae, Mathews and Ish Smith, who had 19 points, combined for 76 of Washington's 80 points from its bench.
Miami got just 27 points from its subs, with Dragic accounting for 10.
“It was a trap game," Dragic said. "If you want to be the best team in the East, we need to know that. That every night you need to bring it and we didn’t do that tonight. It’s a good lesson for this group.”
For most of his 13-season NBA career, Mahimni has been a backup. In two of his three previous seasons with the Wizards, he's been limited by injuries and this season, he's missed 20 of the first 21 games.
“He's a glue guy that can protect the paint and can give you some good minutes when he's healthy," Brooks said.
Mahinmi isn't used to being in the spotlight.
“Obviously, we're missing a lot of key guys,” he said. “I just wanted to come out a little bit more aggressive.”
Heat: Host the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. Miami is an NBA-best 15-1 at home.
Wizards: Host the Orlando Magic on Wednesday in the third of a six-game homestand.
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