Heat | bench

Reserves spark Miami Heat comeback

 

Shane Battier and Norris Cole combined for 13 points in the fourth quarter, providing the boost the Heat needed to rally for a victory.

WEB VOTE Which player’s absence has hurt his team most in the NBA playoffs?

grichards@MiamiHerald.com

The Heat went into the fourth quarter down eight points on Wednesday night. Shane Battier said Miami was desperately “searching for something.”

That “something” turned out to be reserves Battier and Norris Cole.

Battier and Cole came into the fourth with just one point between them, yet both came up big on both sides of the floor to help Miami rally for a 94-91 win over the Bulls to close out the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Heat outscored Chicago 25-14 in the fourth.

“We were able to turn the corner in the fourth, change the momentum,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “At the beginning of the fourth, our bench really sparked us. It gave everyone on the bench and our team life. From there our guys were able to make confident plays.”

Battier and Cole combined for 13 points in the fourth — and all of those points seemed to grab momentum for the Heat.

The biggest two points from that duo likely came from Cole with 5:51 left.

Miami trailed by a point when Cole went up over Chicago’s Joakim Noah and threw down a nasty dunk — with his left hand.

“It’s big,” Cole said. “Any time you get a bucket in the fourth quarter of a playoff game is big. For it to be a dunk was icing on the cake. It felt great.”

Cole had five points in the fourth and four within a span of less than a minute. Before his big dunk, Cole hit a midrange jumper for his first field goal of the night.

“We had to dig down deep because we knew they weren’t going to go away,” said Cole, in his second year out of Cleveland State. “We needed to go on a run and we were able to do that. We’re a team and the plays that we ran were to my strength.”

Added Spoelstra: “He was initiating a majority of our offense in the fourth to get it going. He showed some poise beyond his years.”

Battier’s night got off to a cold start as he missed his first four shots.

Never one to hide during a shooting slump, Battier shot his way out of it and drilled a three-pointer to pull the Heat within five 90 seconds into the fourth.

Not long after, LeBron James missed a three-pointer and the Heat got another offensive board — something it hadn’t done for much of the night.

Battier hit another three-pointer to pull the Heat within two.

“We dug deep. It was a strange game and a strange series,” Battier said.

“We knew we needed to hold them under 20 points in the fourth. We just needed something to spark us. Whether it was three-point shots or spectacular dunks, we needed something to get us into the game.”

Not to overstate the obvious, but Miami also got a lift from Dwyane Wade in the fourth after it looked like his bruised right knee was giving him trouble.

Spoelstra said Wade went to the locker room during the third and fourth quarter — but Spoelstra claims it wasn’t because of his knee.

“I think he was just changing his shoes,” Spoelstra said.

Wade, who returned to the game with 8:27 left, scored six of his 18 points down the stretch.

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