Better late than never for Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. Way better.
The Heat escaped with a 105-96 win after a pair of Wade three-pointers in overtime put the Pacers down for good.
Wade seemed to cruise through the first half at Conseco Fieldhouse while Troy Murphy and Danny Granger helped push the Indiana Pacers to a ten point lead at the break. The teams appeared even on the court, in fact they both finished the half shooting 15-41 from the floor, but the Pacers were forcing the action to shoot more free throws.
Still, with Wade on the court the apparent equity was always a mirage. They were even unless #3 decided otherwise.
Wade officially decided otherwise in the third quarter. What a show. 18 points, 4 rebs and 2 steals along with erasing a ten-point deficit. Oh, and he did it with style. The highlight shows won't have nearly enough time to capture Wade's night properly unless they show the bulk of the third quarter.
The Pacers weathered the DWade outburst though and hung tough in the fourth quarter thanks to a strong effort off the bench by A.J. Price. While Danny Granger and Troy Murphy struggled to come through in winning time, Price found a way to score 8 points.
The Pacers even came up with a big stop near the end of regulation, forcing Wade into a slip-beg-for-a-call move with the shot clock running out. With the score tied, the Pacers had the ball and a chance to win with the final shot. Things went haywire early in the possession when the Heat applied some crazy pressure on Price and Earl Watson. Eventually, though, Granger had the win in his hands but had to create against Dorrell Wright from 22 feet. He found enough room to release a shot but the pull up game-winner bounced off the back iron leading to the first overtime period of the season for the Pacers.
Wade won the OT and the game for the Heat, making all three of his shots, including the two 3-balls while Granger missed all four of his attempts. In the end, there was only one difference maker on the court, he was wearing black and he was indeed the difference between winning and losing on this night.
More thoughts after the jump:
- Danny Granger ended his run of efficient scoring games with 25 points on 22 shots, trying to rise to the challenge of D-Wade but failing to do so. His 6 points in the fourth quarter and overtime simply weren't enough.
- Troy Murphy was also quiet down the stretch, although with the small lineup for much of the second half he didn't have as many opportunities. After putting up 20 points and 11 rebounds in the first half, he only had five shots in the second half and overtime to finish with 29 points, one shy of his career-high.
- Wade had several plays of note but a couple really stood out. In the third quarter he appeared bottled up with the ball on the right side at the top of the lane. In a blink, Wade threw a behind-the-back-between-the-legs dribble at the defense which took him through all of the traffic followed by a sweet finish at the rim.
- Near the end of the third quarter, Wade even made a pull-up jumper look spectacular. With Rush on the ball, Wade burst to the hole in fifth gear only to stop after a dribble while Rush was still accelerating to catch up on the drive. Needless to say he had a nice open look which he splashed for two.
- Roy Hibbert picked up a couple of fouls in the first quarter then returned for ten seconds in the second quarter before picking up his third foul, more pine time and an earful from JOB. By the end of the third he had his fifth and was never a factor in the post. With Jermaine O'Neal out, the Pacers had a chance to establish something with Roy in the post, but he wasn't able to capitalize on the situation.
- Plenty of juice in the building tonight with a hoops hyped crowd thanks to the Final Four. Among the coaches on hand were Bill Self, Frank Martin and Tubby Smith along with player of the year Evan Turner.
- There was a nice little contingent of Kansas fans on hand tonight to see former KU heroes Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush. No doubt the group scheduled the perfect weekend of past and present around the Final Four. Unfortunately the present Jayhawks left them hanging which mad the pre-game interaction with Rush and Chalmers the highlight of the weekend. Rush did his part to make every picture a keeper for the KU faithful.
- In the second quarter we even had a little Jayhawk-on-Jayhawk crime as Mario Chalmers tried to get off a little runner before the shot clock ran out only to have Brandon Rush on his hip to swat the attempt out of bounds.
- Michael Beasley is ridiculous. His one-on-none pre-game workout that all players go through before the game was impressive. I'm sure he was giving an equitable amount of effort to the exercise as any other play, but his shots and movers to the hoop were pure and smooth and done with such ease that it's easy to see how scouts would've minimized any non-basketball related red flags.