Just another day, another win, Wade said jokingly of his heroic final play, one drawn up to play out differently by Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
“We designed the play for him to have the open drive to the rim, possibly to get to the free throw line,” Spoelstra said.
Wade had other ideas.
“As soon as I saw Dwyane take one step back, I thought, ‘OK, he’s going for the win right now,” Spoelstra said.
“I was able to cut back for a split second and get to my comfort hand and shoot it,” said Wade, whose 22-point performance broke his own franchise record. It was his 22nd straight game reaching the 20-point mark—he previously had a 21-game streak snapped by scoring 18 at Philadelphia on March 15.
“I feel terrible for our guys,” Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. “We lay it all out there and to get beat like that, I’m just sick to my heart for them. It hurts. I feel so bad because the effort was extraordinary. We just fell short.”
Sean Williams(notes) had eight of his 12 points in the fourth quarter, and Lopez and Trenton Hassell(notes) each finished with 17 points for New Jersey (0-10), which played with an eight-man rotation because of injury or personal reasons.
“That’s not indicative of a 0-10 team, the way they’ve been playing,” said Spoelstra, who became the fastest Heat coach to win 50 games, doing so in 90 attempts.
“They’ve been doing an incredible job staying in and sustaining their effort.”
That left some of the point guard role up to Wade, who didn’t get his usual fourth-quarter rest because the Heat were only holding a one-point lead going into the period.
Williams, who came off the bench late in the third, provided a boost for New Jersey. The forward had played sparingly prior to the game, finishing with a season high against the fourth-best defense in the league.
Despite the injuries that left New Jersey with only eight players, the Nets got off to a fast start.
After a quick back and forth of buckets, Wade re-entered the game with 6:05 on the clock.
That’s when Miami answered back with a 16-4 run of its own to take the lead at half, 40-38. Haslem had six, with Wade adding a running jumper and three-point play off a behind-the-back layup on the Nets’ Josh Boone(notes). Notes: The Nets and Heat play three more times this season, but not again until Feb. 17. … Richardson entered Saturday as the only player in the NBA to log more than 250 minutes this season without attempting a single shot from the foul line. His last make was April 12, in his next-to-last game with the New York Knicks at Miami. … Joel Anthony(notes) started in O’Neal’s place. … Stan Van Gundy had been the fastest Heat coach to win 50, needing 93 games to do so during his stint as Pat Riley’s replacement.