8:00 PM ET, February 1, 2007
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
MIAMI -- With less than eight minutes remaining, the Miami Heat were in a 12-point hole and their superstar guard had already established a franchise record for most turnovers in a game.
"I knew it had to get better," Dwyane Wade said.
And it did.
Wade had 41 points -- including a team-record 24 points in the final quarter -- as Miami pulled off a big rally to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 92-89 in a game that had some bizarre occurrences down the stretch.
Dwyane Wade got the best of LeBron James again on Thursday. Wade scored 41 points and has at least 20 points in each of his last 13 games, setting personal and franchise marks. He also scored a team-record 24 points in the fourth quarter to secure the win. Here are the numbers when the stars collide:
|*41.0 average in 4 games last season (2-2)|
The All-Star guard set three team records: most free throws made in a game (23, in 24 chances) and most turnovers (12).
"I knew it was a matter of time before I got going," Wade said. "I was just hoping it came soon."
After his heroics down the stretch, his teammates will gladly look past the ballhandling troubles.
"He's a great player, great unselfish player," said Shaquille O'Neal, who returned from injury to score 16 points before fouling out. "We're going to ride him."
While Miami's franchise player was in top form late, Cleveland's star was obviously hurting.
LeBron James, bothered by a sprained right big toe, played 36 minutes and finished with 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds -- but was 3-for-8 from the line and missed three free throws in a span of 17.2 seconds late in the game, including one that would have tied it with 44.8 seconds left. He had missed two of Cleveland's previous three games because of the injury.
"We had a lot of chances," James said. "I take full responsibility for this loss."
After Wade's three-point play with 46.3 seconds left broke a tie, James was fouled by James Posey, a call that incensed Heat interim coach Ron Rothstein so much that he walked over to the scorers' table and slammed it with both fists.
Wade scored his 41 points despite being charged with 12 turnovers (no, those don't count toward a triple-double). That's the most turnovers in a 40-pont game since the NBA began charging individuals with turnovers in the 1977-78 season; the previous most was 11 turnovers by Hakeem Olajuwon in a 52-point overtime game in 1990.
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Rothstein was called for a technical foul and, after Zydrunas Ilgauskas made the free throw, James could have tied it with his two. But he missed the first and, even though James hit a 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left to get Cleveland within 90-89, the Heat would eventually hold on -- giving James his seventh loss in as many trips to South Florida.
"It was inexcusable that I got a technical foul at that time," Rothstein said. "Totally inexcusable."
Rothstein's technical wasn't the only wild play in the final minute.
With the Heat up 87-86 with 20.4 seconds left, Wade took a hard foul in the face, courtesy of his good friend James -- who was called for a flagrant foul as Wade writhed in pain near midcourt. Wade made both free throws to push the lead to 89-86, then made one more after being fouled again 2.4 seconds later.
"He was just going for the steal," Wade said.
"D-Wade knows it's not intentional," James said. "But it's part of the rules, you've got to call it."
James missed a long shot that would have tied the game at the buzzer.
"This is a tough team to play," Cleveland forward Drew Gooden said. "We'll be back."
Wade's turnovers were two more than his previous career worst and one more than the dubious mark Kevin Edwards set during the Heat's expansion season 18 years ago.
Cleveland led 41-38 at halftime, despite a quiet opening half from James, who missed two of the Cavaliers' previous three games because of the toe injury.
James was 1-for-6 from the field in the first half, his only basket being an alley-oop dunk off Larry Hughes' assist. But James hit a 3-pointer only 21 seconds after intermission, sparking a 7-0 run that pushed Cleveland's lead to 48-38.
Cleveland's biggest lead was 12 on two occasions, the last on Eric Snow's jumper with 8:01 left, but Miami outscored the Cavaliers 28-13 from there.
Wade's 24 free-throw attempts matched as many as the Cavaliers got in the game. Miami was 28-for-35 as a team, Cleveland 15-for-24.
"Dwyane Wade shoots more free throws than our entire team, or maybe ties," Cavaliers coach Mike Brown said. "I have no idea how we can guard the guy."
O'Neal, who has missed much of the season with a knee injury, returned to the Heat after sitting out their last two games because of a calf injury.
O'Neal and Wade got their All-Star jerseys before the game. Both were voted as Eastern Conference starters. ... The Cavs' loss ensured Washington coach Eddie Jordan of coaching the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game. ... Plenty of celebrities were in the crowd, including tennis star Andy Roddick, San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson, Dallas wide receiver Terrell Owens, Chicago defensive end Adewale Ogunleye (taking a break from his Super Bowl preparations), and former tennis pro Anna Kournikova, accompanied as always by singer Enrique Iglesias.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||33-76 (.434)||30-66 (.455)|
|3PM-3PA||8-22 (.364)||4-12 (.333)|
|FTM-FTA||15-24 (.625)||28-35 (.800)|
|Fast Break Points||18||9|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||29 (0/1)||19 (2/0)|