Wade, James lift Heat past 76ers 111-99By TIM REYNOLDS, AP Sports Writer Friday, Mar 25, 2011
MIAMI (AP)—They’ve been the “Big 3” from the moment they signed in Miami last summer, and they’ll stay that way for the rest of their Heat tenure.
Sometimes, one will stand above the others.
Wade finished 39 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks and three steals—an effort matched only by Shaquille O’Neal(notes) in the last 25 seasons, according to STATS LLC—and the Heat used two big scoring runs to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 111-99 on Friday night.
“I really had no clue what I had going,” Wade said.
The 76ers apparently had no clue how to stop it, either.
LeBron James(notes) finished with 32 points, Chris Bosh(notes) added 20 points, with both grabbing 10 rebounds. Wade’s stats somehow managed to overshadow both those efforts, especially after he personally outscored Philadelphia 18-17 in the fourth quarter.
“They just had another gear,” 76ers coach Doug Collins said. “Those three guys got 91 points. That’s tough to beat.”
Down by 16 in the first half, Miami used a 23-2 second-quarter run to take the lead, then had a 24-5 spurt to erase an eight-point hole and put the game away in the fourth. The win, combined with Boston’s loss to Charlotte, moved the Heat (50-22) within a half-game of the Celtics (50-21) for the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference.
“They’re going through a transition right now that every team goes through,” James said of Boston. “We had ours a few weeks ago.”
Wade shot 7 for 8 and had three blocks in the fourth, one more than Philadelphia managed in the entire game. And when things looked particularly bleak for Miami, Wade willed the Heat back into it, scoring twice to tie it shortly after the 76ers were up 88-80 and seeming in control.
James set up James Jones(notes) for a 3-pointer with 6:37 left that put Miami up for good, Wade added a three-point play a minute later, then the 2006 NBA finals MVP knocked the ball away from Elton Brand(notes) and dunked for a 100-92 Heat lead.
“Dwyane was simply sensational,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.
James got loose for another steal and dunk to make the margin 11 shortly afterward, and in a flash, it was over.
“We’ll take it any way we can get it,” Bosh said.
Lou Williams scored 24 points for Philadelphia, which got 15 more from fellow reserve Thaddeus Young(notes). Jodie Meeks(notes) added 14 for Philadelphia, which was outscored 34-17 in the fourth. Spencer Hawes(notes) and Jrue Holiday(notes) each scored 13 for Philadelphia, which held those Miami players not in the “Big 3” club to 7 for 25 shooting.
Problem was, Wade, James and Bosh combined to shoot 34 for 58.
“It’s so hard to guard those guys when they’re rolling like that,” Brand said.
Wade was rolling in ways not seen often. The last stat line like the one he finished with Friday came nearly a decade earlier to the day, March 23, 2001, when O’Neal finished with 40 points, 17 rebounds, eight assists, five blocks and three steals for the Los Angeles Lakers against Washington.
O’Neal won a title that season. Five years later, he and Wade brought one to Miami. Now the Heat are thinking they can hoist the trophy in June again, and nights like this suggest that might very well be possible.
“There’s going to be games where all three of us are on, like tonight,” James said.
Miami led 51-50 at the half, a score that could provide a misleading impression that the opening 24 minutes were nip-and-tuck.
Philadelphia had an 18-6 run to take a 42-26 lead with 6:19 left in the half. The Heat were getting run out of their building, and by their hand—the 76ers forced 12 turnovers for 16 points in the game’s first 18 minutes, and not coincidentally, that separated the teams over that span.
When the turnovers stopped, the game changed.
The Heat made their next eight shots, seven of them either layups or dunks, on the way to a 23-2 run over the next 5 1/2 minutes to take a 49-44 lead. Wade had 13 points, Bosh and James combined for the other 10.
In the third, Philadelphia clearly had recovered from the Miami blitz to close the half, taking an 82-77 lead into the final 12 minutes.
Handling the second Heat run was simply too much.
“This team is a great team,” Collins said. “They’ve got so many different options they can go to and then when they go to that small lineup, they are lethal.”
Notes: Miami’s last 50-win season was the 2005-06 championship campaign. … Wade, listed at 6-foot-4, blocked a shot by the 7-foot-1 Hawes in the first quarter. … Brand was whistled for his fourth technical foul of the season. He had four in the previous six seasons combined. … Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki, the world’s No. 1 women’s tennis player, sat courtside, a few seats away from Serena Williams. … Wade tossed a towel over the head of Heat official scorer Peter Abraham in the fourth quarter.