Dwyane Wade was pushed into the corner forced to shoot a contested three for the win. He missed.
The Pacers followed a familiar recipe for disaster on Wednesday night. After playing a tough opponent to a near stalemate for most of the game, a solid fourth quarter effort put the Pacers in position to close out a win (this time, up 10 with 3:45 to play). Then a sudden rash of empty possessions puts the great effort in jeopardy until eventually the opponent's closer hits a game winner leaving the Pacers no recourse but to hang their head and take a loss.
But tonight that final ingredient, in the hands of an MVP-caliber closer in D-Wade, didn't mix and the Pacers averted disaster with a 90-88 win. The ball hit the rim, bounced off the glass and fell harmlessly to the floor WITHOUT going through the net.
Yes, he missed.
A few more thoughts:
- Dwyane Wade struggled from the field all night, missing many more shots than the game-winner. He finished with 21 points on 5-24 shots from the floor. I'll give the Pacers defense some credit, but it was definitely an off night for Wade.
- Danny Granger had a sneaky 28 points mostly because his ten fourth quarter points were in the flow of the game. His 3-ball with 3:45 left put the Pacers up ten and appeared to be a dagger. Unfortunately, the Pacers couldn't back it up with enough buckets down the stretch.
- T.J. Ford drew everyone's attention away from Granger in the fourth quarter as he caught fire to help push the Pacers to a lead. At one point, it looked like Ford was gearing up for an extremely late run at the Sixth Man of the Year award. As it was he came off the bench to pump in 20 points with 9 rebounds and 3 assists. Ford's 6MoY credentials took a hit though when he missed on three straight possessions which helped the Heat jump back into the game.
- The Pacers were without Marquis Daniels again as expected, but also missed Troy Murphy. An MRI will determine whether Murph's sprained knee will end his season or not.
- Jeff Foster helped pick up the slack for Murph as he hauled in 16 rebounds and blocked 4 shots.
- Brandon Rush had another nice game, spending plenty of time chasing around D-Wade on defense, including Wade's final attempt. Rush finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds.
- The Pacers had one of their best, if not THE best, transition bucket of the season during the fourth quarter run. Jarrett Jack initially had the ball on the wing and then shot it in to a running T.J. Ford who went up in the lane with a pump fake. Normally we'd expect a finger-roll flip from Ford, but instead he flipped it back to a streaking Danny Granger for the finish. Beautiful.
- Yes, Jarrett Jack and T.J. Ford played together quite a bit tonight and played well, including right before the half when Ford drove in the lane to set up Jack for an open 3-ball which he knocked down.
- The Heat hung around in a stagnant third quarter thanks to Udonis Haslem. Haslem made five straight jumpers at one point and finished the game with 18 points and 14 rebounds.
- Jermaine O'Neal played 30-some minutes and looked pretty good at times. Still absolutely no lift, though. He finished with 13 points on 14 shots.
- According to Bruno's blogcast, the Paces have beaten the Heat 14 straight times at home, 17 if you include the playoffs. That's just nutty.