Brilliant Wade lifts Heat to win over Hornets in Game Six

Sat Apr 30, 2016 1:01am EDT
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(The Sports Xchange) - When the Miami Heat needed someone to step up at crunch time Friday, Dwyane Wade delivered.

As a result, the Heat have forced a deciding Game 7 in their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series against the Charlotte Hornets.

Wade scored 23 points and hit two crucial baskets in the final minute as the Heat held off the Hornets 97-90 to even the series 3-3. Game 7 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Miami.

His 3-pointer with 46 seconds remaining gave the Heat a 93-88 lead, and after a Hornets basket he hit a fallaway 18-footer with 19.5 seconds left to push the lead back to five. He also hit a 3-pointer with 3:05 remaining to give the Heat a 90-81 lead, before the Hornets rallied and got as close as two.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra continued to call Wade's number down the stretch, and for good reason.

"Dwyane feels most alive when the competition is at its highest, when games feel like this," Spoelstra said. "He was brilliant on both ends. I've seen him enough over the years that it just becomes about winning plays, whatever those may be. It's born out of great competition. It brings the absolute best out of him."

The 13-year veteran guard had not hit a 3-pointer since December, but he was looking to step up in any way he could with the game -- and the series -- on the line.

"A lot of the games have been like this, the two teams are very equal," Wade said. "It takes special performances and big shots to win. Coach put the ball in my hands and I had to make some tough shots. Tonight, in Game 6, I trust my teammates, I love them, but if we were going to lose I was going to go out shooting."

Wade's performance overshadowed a brilliant evening by Charlotte's Kemba Walker, who finished with 37 points. Walker single-handedly kept the Hornets in the game as he scored 12 straight Hornets points during their late comeback.   Continued...

Apr 29, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Miami Heat center Hassan Whiteside (21) and Charlotte Hornets forward Frank Kaminsky (44) tip off game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports