The crowd of 19,600 inside AmericanAirlines Arena rose to their feet as the most accomplished player in Miami Heat history clambered back onto the court after nearly making one of those plays which has made him so beloved. Dwyane Wade had read the Utah Jazz’s set perfectly and jumped in the way of a pass intended for a wide-open three-point shooter in the left corner. His play sent him tumbling about half a dozen rows into the baseline seats to break up the play.
“That might have been my favorite play,” coach Erik Spoelstra said in his postgame news conference, “of his entire career.”
A few moments later, the Heat came up with a stop and Miami’s rally was on. The Heat finished the game on a 7-3 run to pull out a 102-100 win against the Jazz on Sunday in Miami. Wade scored four of those points for the Heat and finished with 15 points — including seven in the fourth quarter — and eight assists.
Those seven fourth-quarter points all came in the final four minutes. It began immediately after Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell canned a three to give Utah a 94-92 lead with 4:01 remaining. Wade came right back and sunk a three of his own to give the lead back to the Heat (9-13) with 3:41 to go.
After an and-one by Jazz point guard Ricky Rubio, Wade energized the crowd on Miami’s next defensive possession. Post player Kelly Olynyk eventually came up with a steal and wing Wayne Ellington nailed a three on the other end to give the lead back to the Heat. Wade stretched the lead to 100-97 possession later when he slithered through the Utah defense to drop in a layup with 1:32 left.
Rubio responded with a three to tie the game and then neither the Heat nor the Jazz (12-12) could score until 3.2 seconds remained. Once again it was Wade, this time drawing contact on a drive and going to the line for a pair of free throws. As the crowded chanted “MVP,” Wade calmly dropped in both. A three by Mitchell on the other end rimmed out and Miami pulled out its second straight win.
“It’s fun,” Spoelstra said. “I don’t want it to end.”
Wade, however, needed help from his teammates to get in position for his late burst to matter. The future Hall of Famer started off just 2 of 10 before finishing 4 of 15, so the Heat needed big contributions from somewhat unusual places to erase an early 19-point deficit. Center Hassan Whiteside led with way with 23 points and 20 rebounds, and played fourth-quarter minutes for the first time in five games. Olynyk, whose playing time has also been sporadic, scored 18 and went 3 of 6 from three-point range.
Those two were instrumental in an early 20-0 run, which gave Wade a chance to deliver in the end. Utah jumped out to a 35-16 lead with 1:46 left, but Miami answered with 20 straight. Whiteside scored five during the run and Olynyk added four.