Wade’s Heroics Lift Heat Past Pistons
Miami 100, Detroit 98
MIAMI, Feb. 12 (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade flashed his own brilliance to the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Wade scored his team's final 17 points, including the go-ahead jumper with 2.3 seconds remaining, as the Miami Heat rallied for a 100-98 victory over the Detroit Pistons.
"It was a lot of fun," Wade said. "It was time for me. I had to come through and help this team win. I went through a tough stretch (early) where I was hitting nothing. But my teammates gave me confidence to keep shooting the ball. Once I found my outside shot, I felt in a zone. I let the game come to me."
"It was an absolutely amazing run," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "I haven't seen many like that in a long time."
Wade, who has drawn the nickname "Flash" from teammate Shaquille O'Neal, started his barrage with a jumper with 4:27 remainining to pull the Heat within 90-85.
On the Heat's ensuing possession, Wade made an acrobatic layup while drawing a foul from All-Star Rasheed Wallace with 3:45 to go. He sank two free throws 18 seconds later to tie the game.
However, it looked like Wade's performance would go to waste when All-Stars Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton drained 3-pointers around a follow by Wade, giving the Pistons a 96-92 lead with 2:17 to go.
Wade, who admitted he was tired in third quarter from "chasing after Rip Hamilton," had two more baskets around one by Billups to make it a two-point game. Wade then made a pull-up jumper with 55 seconds to go, tying the game at 98-98.
Following misses by Hamilton and Billups, the Heat elected to go without a timeout. Wade caught Tayshaun Prince leaning and drilled the go-ahead jumper from the left side.
"The last time I saw something like that, MJ (Michael Jordan) was playing," Heat backup center Alonzo Mourning said of Wade's performance. "MJ used to take over ballgames in the fourth quarter and he would get to the point where you could not stop him. And D-Wade had that mentality tonight."
Wade scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and tied a season high with 37 in lifting the Heat to their biggest win of the season while also helping them rebound from an embarrassing loss, a 112-76 drubbing at Dallas on Thursday.
Prince had a chance to win it for the Pistons but missed an open 3-pointer as time expired.
Miami had been 0-7 against the NBA's top four teams - Detroit, San Antonio, Dallas and Phoenix.
"It's important for confidence," Wade said. "Anytime we get down, we can look to this game and know that we did it against a good team."
"They hadn't beaten any of the top four teams," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "There's no question that was something that they were pulling for. They came back and that is something they can hang their hats on. They're extremely talented. Right now, they're the second best team (in the East)."
O'Neal carried Miami in the first half when he scored 21 of his season-high 31 points before Wade took over down the stretch.
"Anybody can win one game," O'Neal said. "Now we have to keep it going. We need any win, especially against the top teams."
Miami has taken a lot of heat from the media over its failures against the NBA's elite.
"We've got to listen to our own music," Riley said of the criticism. "There's been a lot of pummeling. It's heavy."
Billups had 29 points and 10 assists, Hamilton scored 25 points and Wallace 21 for the league-leading Pistons (41-9), who fell to 2-3 in their last five games.
"It's just another win (for them) really," Billups said. "They might look at it as bigger than what it really is, but it is just another win against the team with the best record in the league."
Detroit lost despite making 11-of-20 shots from the arc. The Heat missed 11-of-12 shots from 3-point range.
"We usually don't lose games like that," Billups said. "We gave that game away. We had it. They rode their young fella (Wade), but it was a game we should have won."
Gary Payton added 13 points in 30 minutes off the bench in place of ineffective starter Jason Williams for Miami, which shot 47 percent (42-of-90) and committed just four turnovers.