ATLANTA (AP)—Dwyane Wade didn’t call “bank.”
No need. This was the playoffs, not H-O-R-S-E.
With 13 straight points to close the first half and an unlikely 3-pointer off the backboard in the waning minutes, Wade showed it’s hard to keep him down two games in a row. He scored 33 points in all, leading the Miami Heat to a 108-93 victory over the Atlanta Hawks that evened their playoff series at one game apiece Wednesday night.
“This is where amazing happens,” Wade said.
Amazing, indeed. Remember how bad Wade and his Miami teammates looked in a 90-64 loss to open the playoffs? They were that good in Game 2.
Wade already had more points by halftime than he had in Game 1, when he was held to 19 points and turned it over eight times. Only once during the regular season was he held to less that 20 points in consecutive games, and he wasn’t about to do it again in the playoffs.
This was vintage D-Wade—6-of-10 from 3-point range, 11-of-20 overall, five rebounds, seven assists, two blocked shots and a steal.
Wade was locked in for this one, and the Hawks didn’t stand a chance.
“He set the tone,” Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Before I came out to talk to the team, right before the game, there was some joking and laughing in the locker room and I heard him tell everybody to shut up and get their minds on the game.”
After trailing by as many as 18, the Hawks twice closed within five points in the fourth quarter—but never got over the hump. Wade delivered the decisive blow when, with the shot clock running down, he threw up a long 3. The shot was errant, but it banked in off the backboard and was just as good as a swish.
“I didn’t call ‘bank,”’ Wade quipped. “Just like everybody in the building, I’m not going to tell a story, I was shocked, too.”
The improbable shot pushed the Heat to a 101-91 lead, and the Hawks were done.
The crowd started heading for the exits, except for a handful of Miami fans who hung around to serenade Wade with chants of “M-V-3!” When the horn sounded, Wade went over and shook hands with Atlanta rap star T.I., sitting at courtside as he waits to begin his yearlong sentence for weapons charges.
“I’ve been feeling it coming, feeling it coming,” Wade said. “I didn’t see nothing but the basket, and it was getting bigger and bigger.”
The Hawks should have known this wouldn’t be their night when “Spirit,” an actual hawk that flies down from the rafters during the pre-game introductions, decided to hang around for the start of the game. The game had to be halted for a couple of minutes when the fierce-looking bird landed on the top of the backboard; he finally flew to his handler and was led out of the building.
“You see Al Horford duck and run, I was like, ‘Let me run for cover as well,”’ Wade said. “It was kind of weird having the hawk fly around. It’s hard to play with your back to that hawk on the backboard.”
Turns out, the real hawk showed more aggressiveness than any of the players wearing Hawks across the front of their jerseys until the fourth quarter, when Atlanta finally came to life.
“We didn’t start the game with a sense of urgency, like the start of the first game,” Smith said. “We didn’t play together. Put those two negatives together, and that’s what caused us to lose. We were playing selfish on offense.”
Unlike the loss in Game 1, when only one other Miami player scored in double figures, Wade had plenty of help this time. Daequan Cook scored 20 points, going 6-of-9 from 3-point range to make up for an 0-for-5 showing beyond the arc on Sunday night. Jermaine O’Neal scored 19 points, giving the Heat a presence on the inside. Michael Beasley added 12 and Udonis Haslem 10.
Miami’s reserves outscored the Hawks’ bench 37-20. Atlanta coach Mike Woodson pointed to that more than Wade, who, after all, led the NBA in scoring at 30.2 points a game.
“He made some shots tonight, but I don’t think that was the killer factor,” Woodson said. “We let their bench play a major role.”
Mike Bibby led the Hawks with 18 points, but the home team shot only 44 percent from the field and struggled at the foul line, making 19-of-30.
The Hawks, who made home-court advantage their No. 1 goal coming into the season, will now have to do something they couldn’t do a year ago: win a playoff game on the road. Atlanta surprised eventual champion Boston by extending the Celtics to seven games but lost four blowouts in Beantown.
If that trends continues, the Heat will be moving on to the second round. Game 3 is Saturday in Miami.
Led by Wade, Miami began to pull away in the second quarter. He capped his 13-point spurt with three straight 3-pointers, giving him 21 points—more than he had in all of Game 1—heading to the locker room.
The Hawks tried to guard the Miami star with several players. None had much success.
Joe Johnson picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter and had to sit the rest of the period. Flip Murray might as well have thrown up a white towel. Maurice Evans wasn’t much better, shaking his head in disbelief at one point when Wade swished another jumper.
Led by the high-flying Smith, Atlanta ran the Heat out of the building in Game 1. The Heat was held to a season low for points as the Hawks equaled a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a playoff game.
But, after two exhaustive days of practices, meetings and film sessions, Miami looked like a much different team. The Heat played with much more effort, started hitting some shots and established a half-court game that worked much better than trying to run with the Hawks. Miami also crashed the boards, outrebounding the Hawks 40-33 after getting hammered in the opener, 50-35.
The visitors frustrated Smith, who had a couple of dunks but was held to 17 points. They held Johnson, Atlanta’s leading scorer, to 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting.
Miami was on the verge of a blowout, but the Hawks closed the third quarter on a 7-0 run. Murray had a steal and layup, then hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer after a nifty bit of passing left him open outside the arc.
The arena was in a frenzy when Hawks closed to 94-89 on Murray’s three-point play, and Smith scored on a drive to make it 96-91. After Haslem hit a jumper to push the lead back to seven, the Hawks came up empty on three straight possessions.
Finally, Wade had seen enough. His ricochet 3 ended any thoughts of a comeback.
Both teams stuck with the same lineups and 12-man rosters they used in Game 1. Randolph Morris, Thomas Gardner and the injured Acie Law sat out for the Hawks, while Miami deactivated Mark Blount, Luther Head and Dorell Wright. … The crowd of 19,146 was Atlanta’s fifth straight playoff sellout at Philips Arena and 14th full house of the season. … Wade’s career playoff high is 43 points.
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