So he made them pay.
Telling the packed arena more than once that “this is my house,” Wade scored 46 points, 15 of them coming in a dramatic 19-0 spurt that erased a huge deficit in the final nine minutes and carried the Miami Heat to a 120-115 win over the Knicks on Saturday night.
And think that Knicks-Heat rivalry from years ago is over? Think again.
“When I’m angry, I attack,” said Wade, who tied a franchise record with 24 points in the fourth quarter. “That’s what I did.”
Miami trailed 103-88 after Wade received a bloody lip that needed three stitches after the game and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra earned a technical for arguing why no foul was called. Wade was popped by New York’s Danilo Galinari with an elbow, which the officiating crew saw as the Heat star taking a dive.
“He had that look in his eye that we hadn’t seen since Dallas,” Spoelstra said.
No, this wasn’t the 2006 NBA finals. But it was just as dramatic in many respects.
“It was a simple game plan in the fourth quarter: Just get them to take a shot at Dwyane and make him bleed,” Spoelstra said. “At that point, it (ticked) him off and it (ticked) off the rest of the team. Our intensity level went through the roof.”
Wade scored the game’s next six points, and the comeback was on. The Knicks missed eight straight shots, eventually battled back into a tie at 114, but Wade gave the Heat the lead for good by hitting a jumper with 1:04 left.
“A punch in the stomach,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni said. “Just gut wrenching.”
Nate Robinson led the Knicks with 29 points off the bench, but missed the 3-pointer that would have tied it in the final seconds. Larry Hughes and Chris Duhon each scored 19 and David Lee had an 18-point, 13-rebound night for New York.
“D-Wade is D-Wade,” Robinson said. “You see what he can do.”
If they didn’t before, the Knicks surely do now.
It got testy plenty of times, including with 5:40 left when Robinson said something to O’Neal, the new Heat center took a step toward him, and double-technicals were called.
By then, Wade was in take-over mode anyway.
He was 7-for-11 from the floor in the fourth, 8-for-8 from the line, even doing so without his now-infamous Band-Wade on his cheek.
He might need one for his lip now.
“It doesn’t go right on the lip,” Wade said afterward, talking slowly and with his lip puffed to double its normal size.
Simply put, the Heat were reeling until the final minutes. Robinson and Duhon were scoring at will, the Heat looked tired and on the brink of their second loss in as many nights.
Then Wade got going, adding another chapter to his already-storied Heat legacy.
“It was just something that happened,” Gallinari said of the elbow. “The problem is that after that he turned it up quite a bit.”
The Knicks hit triple-figures in scoring for the 20th consecutive game, and it was obvious early they were going to get there. Duhon got it started, going 5-for-5 from the field—4-for-4 from 3-point range—in the first 8 minutes, as the Knicks sprinted to a quick 22-14 lead.
When Robinson checked in, the Heat had absolutely no answer.
He hit 3-pointers, set up teammates, even outjumped people a foot taller than him. By halftime, in only 16 minutes, Robinson had 24 points on 9-for-12 shooting.
New York led by as many as 15 in the opening half, and Robinson’s 15-footer with 1.7 seconds left gave the Knicks a 67-59 edge at intermission. Miami got within 76-73 after the first five minutes of the third quarter, getting consistent stops for the first time and attacking the Knicks in the paint.
Then Robinson returned—and the game turned quickly back in New York’s favor.
The Knicks closed the third on a 22-10 run, taking a 98-83 lead into the final 12 minutes. Hughes made a trio of 3-pointers in the final 4 1/2 minutes of the third, giving New York more separation.
Then Wade took a shot in the mouth, Spoelstra let the emotions show, and everything changed.
“A very, very good win,” said Heat captain Udonis Haslem, who had a bandage protecting a cut wrist he suffered during another in-game scrum. “We found out a lot about ourselves tonight.”
Miami allowed more than 100 points for the 20th time this season, and is 5-15 in those contests. It was only the fifth time the Heat have given up triple figures in their last 22 games. … The Knicks are 22-7 when leading after three quarters, 1-27 when trailing. … New York has gotten at least 39 points from its bench in 13 of its last 18 games. … O’Neal had to take off his hard plastic knee brace midway through the second quarter after the Knicks complained the hinges were too sharp. He put it back on, with a different wrap, for the second half.