Wade returns from injury, fuels Heat victory
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Dwyane Wade was face-first on the court, pain shooting through his body, his teammates staring in horror.
They'd already survived this scenario once this postseason, against Chicago in Game 5 of the first round. Wade returned that night, fighting the ache of a bruised hip, and sparked his team to a comeback win.
He did it again in New Jersey on Friday night -- allowing the Miami Heat to reclaim control of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Shaking off the effects of a Vince Carter elbow to the chin that sent him briefly to the locker room shortly after halftime with a bloodied mouth, Wade scored 15 of his 30 points in the final period and rallied the Heat to a 103-92 win over the Nets in Game 3.
"I knew he'd be back," Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. "He's been banged up all year, here or there. Head. Mouth. Hip. Back. Knee. Feet. Everything, and nothing has stopped him. I knew he'd be back. I wasn't worried."
Wade added 10 assists for the Heat, who'll look to take a 3-1 lead in the series when it resumes Sunday at the Meadowlands.
Miami trailed 81-80 after Carter made an acrobatic layup with 4:32 remaining, and 20,102 fans in the Nets' home building were raucous.
Wade, though, was unbothered. He drove down the lane on Miami's next possession -- and, after getting drilled by Carter again, scored and converted a three-point play for an 83-81 edge with 4:22 left.
Miami never trailed again. Wade made four more free throws in a 25-second span shortly afterward, capping a 9-0 burst, and then hit Shaquille O'Neal with an alley-oop lob for a dunk with about 2:20 remaining that brought the Heat bench to their feet -- as if that was the moment that they knew they would survive.
"It's sore, but you know, I'm all right," Wade said.
Just like in Game 1, when the Nets stormed to a huge early lead and took control of the series with a 12-point win, it appeared for a while Friday that five bad minutes would doom the Heat.
Wade was elbowed by Carter while defending the Nets guard on a drive about three minutes into the second half. He immediately slid to the ground, his left hand cupped over his nose and mouth -- he bit his jaw so hard he drew blood -- and remained on the floor for a couple minutes before leaving with a towel over his face.
"He's a tough kid," O'Neal said. "I think he got an inadvertent elbow in the face, messed up his pretty red lips a little bit."
Sure, they could laugh about it afterward.
No one on the Miami side was laughing when it happened, though.
Play was stopped with 8:13 left in the third, after New Jersey's Nenad Krstic scored to give the Nets a 57-56. When Wade finally returned after his quick trip to the locker room, it was 64-56 -- New Jersey grasping control with a 15-0 run.
Wade knew he was coming back. And when he did, so did the Heat -- just like in Game 5 against Chicago, when Miami trailed 55-50 -- the Heat began their rally.
Miami pulled into a 72-all tie entering the fourth, after Wade set up three baskets in the final 3:18 of that period -- 3-pointers by James Posey and Gary Payton, then a layup by Payton to cap the burst and set the tone for a frantic fourth quarter.
"He's our guy," Posey said. "He does so much for us as far as creating for other players. When he came back, he was going to lead the way."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
MORE NBA HEADLINES
- Source: Jackson 'ready to go back to work'
- Rockets turn on burners in 3rd, rout Pacers
- D'Antoni, Lakers' brass talk state of team
- Noah, Anthony decline to discuss 'gossip'
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
- NBA Home
- Boston Celtics
- Brooklyn Nets
- New York Knicks
- Philadelphia 76ers
- Toronto Raptors
- Chicago Bulls
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Detroit Pistons
- Indiana Pacers
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Atlanta Hawks
- Charlotte Bobcats
- Miami Heat
- Orlando Magic
- Washington Wizards
- Heat Index