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Friday, December 08, 2006

Wade Carries the Weight, Lifts Heat to 93-91 Overtime Win Over the Kings

Dwyane Wade must feel very lonely at times. Shaquille O'Neal is on the shelf and the rest of the Heat often play as if they have already sailed off into the sunset to enjoy last year's championship. Wade must now score, rebound and create shots for others for Miami to have any chance to win. On Thursday night, he did all of those things in spectacular fashion, narrowly missing his fourth career triple double (32 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists) and scoring seven of the Heat's eight overtime points as Miami escaped Sacramento with a 93-91 win. Scottie Pippen had to do that kind of thing for nearly two years while Michael Jordan was retired and Kobe Bryant has been doing that since O'Neal signed with Miami; it will be interesting to see how long Wade's game and his body will be able to carry such a heavy burden. Wade missed a shot that could have won the game at the end of regulation but made the most of his overtime opportunities. Mike Bibby led the Kings with 20 points and Ron Artest played despite back spasms, contributing 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals but shooting just 5-13 from the field, numbers that are unlikely to persuade anyone that he should be the focal point of the offense.

Udonis Haslem's two jump shots gave Miami a 4-0 lead to start the game but then the Heat did not score again until Wade's dunk more than six minutes later. Fortunately for the Heat, the Kings only led 10-6 at that point. Wade scored six points and had three assists in the last four minutes of the period, helping Miami to take a 22-17 lead. The teams nearly played to a draw in the second period, with Miami in front 42-38 at halftime.

Wade scored eight points and had three assists in the third quarter as Miami stretched its lead to 68-60. Bibby scored 10 of the Kings' 22 points in the quarter. Artest scored back to back baskets at the start of the fourth quarter to cut the lead to 68-64 but Miami slowly pulled away and Wade's jumper put the Heat up 83-71 with 3:59 left. Miami seemed to have matters well in hand but then the Heat's offense and defense seemed to die at the same time, enabling the Kings to run off 10 straight points in three minutes. Alonzo Mourning hit two free throws to put the Heat up 85-81 with just :41 remaining in the quarter but the Kings tied the game on Kevin Martin's jumper and two Brad Miller free throws. Wade missed his initial chance at glory as time ran out but he did not miss much in the overtime: he scored the first seven points of the extra session and the Kings were kaput after that. Stretches like that when great players take over games are special and demonstrate why basketball is like jazz: both forms of expression allow for group harmonies as well as individual solos. Basketball differs from sports such as football and baseball because it involves intricate teamwork yet also leaves space for a great player to leave a tremendous mark on the game almost singlehandedly at times.

posted by David Friedman @ 4:09 AM

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