In a title-winning career filled with big moments, Dwyane Wade notched another one Wednesday night.
We don't know whether Wade's wild 3-point buzzer-beater to lift the Miami Heat over the reigning champion Golden State Warriors 126-125 is a career capstone. Although this is Wade's 16th and final season, who knows, bigger moments might remain in the Heat's 22 remaining regular-season games as they battle for a playoff berth.
But this one was certainly joyous, memorable and something of a rarity -- evoking a 10-year-old fumbled buzzer-beater by Devin Harris. The home crowd lavished applause on the hometown hero after Wade's off-balance shot banked in as time expired.
"We just kept fighting and kept believing," Wade said on-court during a walkoff interview during which he heaped praise on Kevin Durant, who made some big shots and finished with 29 points. "The ball bobbled around and everything and I just got it and tried to put it up. The Good Lord put it in. I'm just overwhelmed right now."
It was the fifth -- and quite possibly the final -- game-winning buzzer-beater of Wade's career.
Reminder: The Horry Scale breaks down a game-winning buzzer-beater (GWBB) in the categories of difficulty, game situation (was the team tied or behind at the time?), importance (playoff game or garden-variety night in January?) and celebration. Then we give it an overall grade on a scale of 1-5 Robert Horrys, named for the patron saint of last-second answered prayers.
DIFFICULTY: This was a 3-pointer, but not a long-distance 3. And Wade appeared to have a good look at the top of the key after receiving a pass from Dion Waiters. But Jordan Bell closed quickly and partially blocked it, knocking it out of Wade's hands. Twisting to regain control, Wade grabbed it and tossed it toward the basket off of one leg -- a difficult move for an improbable off-the-glass bank shot as time expired.
GAME SITUATION: The Heat let a 24-point lead slip away, and were fighting mightily to rally from a four-point deficit in the final minute. This was a game the Heat, losers of seven of their last 10, needed to keep place in the hunt for the No. 8 playoff spot in the East. The wild sequence began with 10 seconds left and the Heat trailing by two. Wade dribbled up court, almost lost the ball but regained it, and found Waiters who returned it to Wade with about 2.5 seconds remaining. That's when Wade tried to shoot the 3, was blocked and regained it for the wild heave as time expired. The looks of disbelief on the Warriors said it all.
CELEBRATION: The Heat didn't punch their ticket to The Finals, but you would have thought so from the celebration. Wade ran the length of the court while the crowd roared and his teammates caught up and mobbed him. He then mounted a courtside table and pounded his chest three times before taking a victory lap while waving a white towel.
GRADE: The only thing keeping this from being the highest grade -- five Horrys -- is that it won a game with relatively little on the line. 4 1/2 Horrys.
The Boston Celtics remain winless since the All-Star break, having lost four in a row. The latest came at the hands of the Portland Trail Blazers, who are now riding a five-game winning streak.
The Blazers, behind Damian Lillard's 33 points, held off the Celtics 97-92, after outscoring them by 11 in the third quarter.
Boston played with more energy tonight but things still didn't go its way. Kyrie Irving scored 31 points in the loss.
He may be 42, but the Hawks' Vince Carter still has hops and he can hang with the best. Watch him defy gravity to drop in a one-handed 2-pointer on the way down over the Wolves' Karl-Anthony Towns.
He also took a forearm in the abdomen.
It wasn't pretty, but James Harden scored 30 points in his first game after his 32-game streak of 30-plus points was broken on Monday night vs. the Hawks. And while 30 is nothing to sneeze at for the average player, it's a mediocre day for Harden, who scored 50-plus four times during the streak. But now he's struggling with his long-distance shooting.
Still, the Rockets are winning while Harden is a bit off his lofty standards, taking down the Hawks on Monday and pulling ahead of the Charlotte Hornets in the fourth quarter to hold on for a 118-113 win. Harden's performance from the line (9-for-9) down the stretch and PJ Tucker's 3-point shooting (5-for-5) gave the Rockets the win.
Amazingly, Harden was 0-for-22 from beyond the arc spanning three games before nailing a 3-pointer with 3:19 left in the third quarter. He finished the night 1-of-11 from long distance after going 0-10 on Monday, when the scoring streak ended.
Being off on the 3 can hurt, as this sequence shows. With seconds left in the third quarter, Marvin Williams takes an outlet pass off the rebound from Harden's clanger, dribbles a time or two and heaves a shot from 6 feet inside the half-court line to beat the buzzer. It was a six-point turnaround that gave Charlotte a 94-90 lead entering the fourth.
Though Charlotte couldn't close out Houston, Kemba Walker finished with 35 points in the Hornets' loss after pouring in 18 in the second quarter and 27 in the first half.
Anthony Davis' look said it all.
LeBron James showed again how he makes a big shot down the stretch to put away an opponent -- this time the New Orleans Pelicans.
The dagger came with about 31 seconds left and the shot clock winding down as the Lakers clung to a 120-117 lead. James lost the handle against Julius Randle, regained it and dribbled to the corner where he fired an off-balance 3-point shot that touched nothing but net as the shot clock expired.
With a six-point lead and the Pelicans deflated, the Lakers held on to win 125-119. It marked a much-needed win for the Lakers, who are in danger of falling out of the playoff hunt in power-packed Western Conference.
The Milwaukee Bucks edged the Sacramento Kings 141-140 in overtime, and the loss may have been costly for the Kings.
Marvin Bagley III went down near the end of the third quarter and writhed in pain before being helped off.
After the game, the Kings called the injury a knee sprain and said Bagley would undergo an MRI on Thursday to determine the extent of the damage.
A talented and lucky fan drained a half-court shot at halftime of the New Orleans Pelicans at Los Angeles Lakers contest to bag a cool $100K. Arguably, Dean Tran of Camarillo, California, has more reason to be happy about his shot than Wade was about his buzzer-beater.
The 40-year-old becomes the eighth winner, aside from ex-Laker Vlade Divac, who shot for charity, to win the MGM Big Shot Jackpot, a promotion which began during the 2006-07 season.
Tran is the second MGM Big Shot Jackpot winner of the season, and first since Ali Sabbouri of Anaheim, California won $30,000 on October 22, 2018.
Who says basketball is all about hand-and-eye coordination? A round ball is a round ball, and some Atlanta Hawks used a soccer drill during pregame warm-ups. Alex Len even made a nothing-but-net shot using the top of his foot.
Boston coach Brad Stevens is not known for foul language. So when he let out an "F bomb," it caught some of the young Celtics by surprise. Not Evan Turner.
Evan Turner said he was unfazed by Brad Stevens’ F bomb: “My second year He went from being PG rated Lizzy McGuire to all-out Mean Girls.”— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) February 28, 2019