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Heat Provide "Warm" Welcome To Howard, But Not The Bullets

13 Janaury 1997. Miami Heat 98, Washington Bullets 95 (record: 19-16)
Game leaders: Howard (23 points), Webber (11 rebounds), Strickland (10 assists)

It was the game when Juwan Howard returns to the "scene of the crime," as I guess some Miami fans might view it. Where Juwan teased the Heat fans with his promise, then bailed on them when his contract was ruled invalid. And when he took the court, he was showered with boos. (ESPNet Sportszone provided AVI and QuickTime versions of the player introduction.)

It's The Webber TO, Baby...
Everyone remembers Webber's infamous TO in the 1993 NCAA championship game. Well, Webber apparently was responsible for Villanova losing Saturday to Miami - "Webber Mistake Hands Victory To Hurricanes." Webber gracefully took the blame for the loss (see the end of the article).
I must say, though, that on the video, though boos didn't sound too loud. Now, Golden State has shown how to boo loudly - every time CWebb returns to town. That's loud!

Despite all of the hoopla, an actual game was played. And it wasn't always pretty for the Bullets. Howard started hot, hitting his first 6 shots en route to 12 points in the first quarter. Then, Miami clamped down and held the Bullets to a season-low 11 points in the second quarter and eventually held a 17-point lead at the end of the third. When the Heat scored the first 5 points of the fourth quarter, it seemed to be over for the good guys.

Howard's End - Or Beginning?
Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell looks at Juwan's return to Miami and what it meant to different parties.
With 9:23 left in the game, the Bullets went on a 35-15 run to get within 2 points of the Heat on a 3-pointer from Chris Webber with 36 seconds left. On the Heat's possession, Alonzo Mourning missed a jumper, and CWebb grabbed the rebound and called timeout with 10 seconds left.

The Bullets ran the same play that they did to win the Phoenix game in overtime. Strickland drove the lane, but Cheaney was covered and Webber's man (Mourning) had doubled down on Strickland. Strickland passed back to Webber, who launched a 3-pointer from practically the same spot as before. This one carromed off to the right and Mourning grabbed the ball and was fouled. He hit 1 of 2 free throws, but Murray's desparation 3 fell short and the Heat walked away winners.

Webber (15 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 4 steals, 1 block) had a solid night in support of Howard (23 points on 9 of 13 shooting, 8 rebounds, 2 assists), though Webber only shot 6 of 21 from the field. Muresan chipped in with 17 points, and Cheaney continued his solid play with 10 points. Murray had 10 points off the bench. However, the Bullets only made 15 of 24 free throws - who knows the final results if the Bullets just make a couple more free throws.

wtf 14 January 1997

<== The Hype Machine Kicks In As The Bullets Meet The Heat Bulls Escape Bullets Fusilade (Which Should Be Aimed At Refs)  ==>

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