7:00 PM ET, December 10, 2007
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
He and the rest of the Miami Heat did it by making one jumper after another, instead.
Wade scored 10 of his 31 points in the final four minutes and the Heat ended their longest road trip of the season with a 117-113 victory over the Suns on Monday night.
"I'm getting a lot more comfortable with my game, especially with my pull-up jumper," said Wade, who scored 16 in Miami's 40-point first quarter. "I wanted to come out and be real aggressive and put some pressure on them."
Raja Bell had the assignment of guarding Wade and said the Suns' poor defensive showing started with him.
"You'd like to keep him out of the paint," Bell said. "His game is mostly driving and finishing and free throws. I tried to do that, but I guess I gave him a little too much space and those jumpers were easy looks for him."
Miami, in its sixth game away from home in nine days, had double-digit leads in all four quarters to beat the Suns for the first time in three seasons.
"It's the best win for us this year, obviously," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "We need them. Sometimes in April or March you'll look back and say there might have been a breakthrough game, a confidence game for you when you have to get through a lot of stuff."
"We'll have to be a better defensive team when we play better teams, or they'll run right over us," Bell said.
The Suns made five 3-pointers, three by Grant Hill and two by Steve Nash, in the final 1:10 but could get no closer than 111-108. Haslem made two free throws with 25 seconds to play, then Wade sealed the victory by stealing Nash's pass and dunking.
Hill, Bell, Shawn Marion and Amare Stoudemire all scored 19 points for Phoenix, which lost its second straight to a team with one of the NBA's worst records. The Suns were beaten at Minnesota on Saturday.
Nash and Suns coach Mike D'Antoni downplayed the significance of the losses.
"You've got to keep moving forward and not worry about what's behind you," Nash said. "It's never that bad and it's never that great. We got beat. We didn't play well enough."
D'Antoni said the Suns' defense got better after the awful first quarter.
"I thought the second half we kind of righted the ship a little bit and played a lot better defense," he said, "but a couple of games we seem to be a little out of synch, not quite right. But we've got to get it back, got to move forward."
The loss snapped a string of nine consecutive victories for the Suns over an Eastern Conference opponent.
Nash was 2-for-11 from the field before his late 3s. He finished with 11 points and 14 assists. Leandro Barbosa was just 4-of-17 from the field for the Suns in their first game back from a 4-1 road trip.
Brian Skinner scored a season-high 13 points, seven in a 13-2 run that tied it at 80 in the third quarter.
The Heat had season highs for points in a quarter (40 in the first), half (67) and a game.
"Now we need to develop some kind of consistency," O'Neal said. "It was a good game. We weren't tired. We wanted to make a breakthrough game and everybody played well."
The Suns trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half and were down by 11 when they mounted the surge that squared it at 80 when Skinner made one of two free throws with 3:09 left in the quarter.
Miami, though, took control again, scoring eight straight, the last five on free throws, to go up 89-80 after three quarters. Wright's dunk on a lob from Wade boosted the lead to 91-80 to start the fourth quarter.
The Heat shot 76 percent (19-of-25) en route to a 40-29 lead after one quarter. The period ended with a Suns' turnover and dunk by Wade, who was 7-for-7 from the field and 2-for-2 at the line for 16 first-quarter points.
Miami improved to 2-6 against Phoenix since Nash came to the Suns and O'Neal to the Heat in the 2004-05 season. ... Marion had four blocked shots for the fifth time in 13 games. The five four-block efforts match his total for all of last season.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||47-80 (.588)||46-95 (.484)|
|3PM-3PA||3-6 (.500)||13-33 (.394)|
|FTM-FTA||20-23 (.870)||8-13 (.615)|
|Fast Break Points||11||18|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||13 (1/0)||19 (0/0)|