Dwyane Wade wagged his finger to the crowd then stepped to the free-throw line for one last jump ball against Shelvin Mack.
It probably wasn’t the sort of game-winning play Erik Spoelstra expected from his future Hall of Famer, Wade does have quite a history of defending around the rim. With four seconds left, Temple became his latest victim, as Wade snuffed out a baseline drive, forced a tie-up, then won a jump ball to seal the Miami Heat’s 112-108 win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Wade was one of seven Heat players to finish in double figures with 10 points. His most important play, however, was his one block after Spoelstra trusted him to close out the game.
Miami’s lead had vanished with less than a minute left. Once leading by 13, the Heat (21-20) needed to outlast the Grizzlies (19-23) in the final minute pull out a win in front of 19,600.
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With 55.9 seconds left, Spoelstra called on his most experienced closer. It didn’t matter that Justise Winslow had a game-high 26 points and it didn’t matter that Wade is 36. The coach wanted Wade to take the final shot.
The guard pulled up from the top of the key and left his jumper short, but Josh Richardson was in the right place to grab the rebound. Memphis fouled the combo guard, who hit one free throw, then Wade denied Mack his chance to tie the game.
The opportunity was only there because of Winslow’s fantastic start. The point forward scored 18 of his 26 points in the first half, although he failed to score in the fourth quarter. Miami managed without star center Hassan Whiteside, who missed the game due to illness, thanks to contributions from all across the roster. Richardson finished with 13 points and a career-high nine assists, and guard Tyler Johnson added another 14 and hit four three-pointers. Small forward Derrick Jones Jr., and post players Kelly Olynyk and Bam Adebayo, who started in place of Whiteside, also finished in double figures.
Winslow wasted no time getting to work Saturday in Miami. The 22-year-old opened the scoring for the Heat with a three-pointer 1:06 in, then hit from three-point range again 39 seconds later. Winslow scored Miami’s first six points, eight of its first 13 and went into halftime with 18 of the Heat’s 63.
Miami, which hadn’t had a 20-point scorer since a Jan. 4 win against the Washington Wizards, needed Winslow’s first-half eruption. The Heat and Grizzlies play at two of the slowest paces in the NBA, but Memphis started off 7 of 8 from the floor to race out to a 19-7 lead. Spoelstra called timeout and went to his bench.
Wade and Jones were the first two off the bench for the Heat, and they helped turn the Heat around on both ends of the floor. Jones started by feeding Adebayo for a layup after a drive to the rim, then, after a layup Richardson, Jones’ effort on the offensive glass drew a foul to set up another bucket by Winslow. Miami clawed back to take the lead at 49-48 with five minutes left in the first half. At the halftime buzzer, Wade sunk a turnaround jumper with his foot on the three-point line to send the Heat into the break up 63-61.
When the second half began, Winslow got to work again. He opened the third-quarter scoring with a stepback jumper from the baseline just 20 seconds in, then knocked down two more threes before heading to the bench with 4:40 left in the period. Memphis chipped away at the Heat’s lead, but ultimately came up short.