BOSTON -- Playing without Chris Bosh, and against a proud, desperate Boston Celtics team with championship pedigree and a rabid crowd behind them, the Heat needed extraordinary efforts from both of its superstars Friday.
Miami got a very good performance from LeBron James, but not enough from Dwyane Wade, and too little support from several others, excluding Mike Miller.
James did all he could to keep his team from being buried on a night when he again filled the boxscore with 34 points on 16-for-26 shooting, with eight rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.
Wade showed a pulse after halftime, but his overall work (18 points, four rebounds, four assists, three turnovers) wasnt nearly up to his standards.
But heres what most stood out: After getting a combined 35 free-throw attempts in Game 2 24 from James, 11 by Wade the two combined for only five, all by James. And James missed four of those five.
For perspective, Wade did not get to the line only three times during the regular season, and in those games, he played three minutes (before being injured), 29 minutes and 32 minutes. He logged 41 minutes Friday.
RARE STAT FOR WADE
The last time Wade didnt get to the line in a playoff game was during his rookie season 2004 against the Hornets.
But he said afterward that he didnt believe his approach was any different Friday.
I played my game, I attacked, Wade said. It just wasnt meant for me to get to the line tonight.
James agreed with that assessment, noting the Heat had 46 points in the paint, compared with 42 and 40 in the first two games.
We still were in attack mode, James said. We will continue to attack and force the issue. Were an attack team and it starts with us.
But Heat coach Erik Spoelstra asked directly about the decline in free-throw attempts for his two stars said: Well be more aggressive and well find ways to get to the rim and get to the free-throw line next game.
Both James and Wade shot well from the field in the second half James 7 for 10, Wade 6 for 11 but it wasnt enough to overcome assorted Heat defensive breakdowns, Wades slow start and the shortcomings of teammates during the first three quarters.
They were being very aggressive, trying to get the ball out of Dwyanes hands and the ball was moving at times, Spoelstra said. We still need to find ways to get it back to him at the second or third ball movement. They got us tonight.
Wade missed a jumper and James committed a turnover, with under two minutes left and the Heat in desperation mode. James scored only four of his 34 in the fourth, making two of his four shots in the period.
James was exceptional early, scoring 16 first-quarter points and shooting 7 for 9 in the first 9:32 of the game. James nailed two 22-footers and a 17-footer, as well as a three, during that simmering start.
James 16 points were his most in a first quarter during these playoffs, and one off his playoff high for any quarter this spring (17 in the fourth against the Knicks).
LeBron was very aggressive he kept us afloat, Wade said.
LITTLE HELP FOR JAMES
But James cooled, as did his teammates. He missed three shots during a 15-0 Boston run over a 7:10 stretch. Overall, Miami missed nine field goals during that drought. The Celtics went with a small lineup during that run, with backup swingman Marquis Daniels defending James on several possessions.
Marquis did a tremendous job guarding LeBron, Celtics forward Paul Pierce said.
James went to halftime with 20 of the Heats 42 points.
The third quarter started inauspiciously for James, who missed a jumper and threw away a pass to Pierce. But he was sharp offensively the rest of the third, hitting five of six shots four jumpers and a floater.
He scored on two layups in the fourth and managed the difficult task of defending Kevin Garnett, as the Heat used a lineup it hadnt employed all season (James, Wade, Miller, Chalmers and Shane Battier).
While James was sizzling early, Wade had another slow start. After shooting 1 for 6 in the first half of Game 2, Wade went 3 for 9, with six points in Fridays first half.
Wades first-half misses included a bank shot, a driving flip shot that was well-defended by Mickael Pietrus and three jumpers. He also had a shot blocked by Pierce.
Wade shot better in the second half to close 9 for 20 from the field. But for the first time, Wade failed to score at least 20 points in a playoff game against Boston. He had reached the 20-point mark in all 12 previous postseason appearances against the Celtics the first player to do that against Boston since Jerry West achieved that in 18 consecutive postseason games from 1966 to 1969.