The tape around Dwyane Wade’s right knee was soaked with sweat and beginning to loosen, so he headed to the locker room to get the joint re-wrapped during the 4th quarter.
Must have been one amazing tape job.
Wade was brilliant down the stretch – and the Heat are heading back to the Eastern Conference finals as a result.
LeBron James scored 23 points, Wade added 18 and the Miami Heat clawed back from an 11-point 2nd-half deficit to beat the Chicago Bulls 94-91and close out their 2nd-round series in 5 games.
”We gave it everything we had,” James said. ”I have no energy left.”
The Miami Heat outscored Chicago Bulls 25-14 in the 4th quarter to escape and advance.
”I knew it was going to be a tough 4th quarter,” Wade said. ”I just wanted to make sure I was good.”
Wade made all 3 of his shots in the 4h, scored 6 points – his most in a final period since March 27, when Miami’s 27-game winning streak ended at Chicago – and helped ice the victory with a dazzling 45-second blitz in the final moments.
In that span alone, Wade had a blocked shot, defensive rebound, offensive rebound and putback dunk to help cap a wild night of wild comebacks. The Heat blew an early 18-point lead, and then engineered a late rally to end off the depleted Bulls.
”Dwyane is uncanny,” Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. ”When the competition is at its highest, and its fiercest, he finds a way.”
The Chicago Bulls still had 2 chances on their last possession to force overtime. But Nate Robinson and Jimmy Butler missed 3-pointers, time expired, and the Heat progressed on to face Indiana or New York next week.
Carlos Boozer finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds for the Chicago Bulls, who were without Derrick Rose for the 99th straight game, as well as Kirk Hinrich (calf) and Luol Deng (illness). Robinson scored 21 points, Butler had 19, and Richard Hamilton 15 for the Bulls, who dropped the final 4 games of the series.
”Obviously we’re disappointed in losing the series,” Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. ”But I was never disappointed in our team. I thought our team fought hard throughout the year. There was no quit in them.”
A team that played without the 2011 NBA MVP in Rose, and dealt with a slew of other issues on the way, was within a couple shots from forcing the reigning champs to fly back to Chicago for a Game 6.
”We’ve got warriors here,” Boozer said. ”If we’re healthy next season, we’re going to be pretty good.”
The Heat say they have more than a couple of those warrior-types also, including Wade. When the stakes were highest, he was there for the Miami Heat. Vegas odds
”I’ll go on and on about how great he is,” James related. ”I really don’t care for the trash talks that he receives.”
For the Chicago Bulls, it was a sudden end to a season in which they never had their best player.