In the closing minutes of the fourth quarter in Miami's home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Heat appeared to be on the edge of giving the game away. Leading by double-digits from the seven-minute mark of the first quarter, the Timberwolves mounted 16-4 run to come within four points. The Heat went to Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade to deliver. And they did.
Bosh made a turnaround baseline jump-shot with 2:25 left to go to put Miami up 96-90. After Kevin Martin missed a 3-pointer on the Timberwolves' ensuing possession, Wade split the pick-and-roll double team at the top of the key for a two-handed dunk to extend the Heat lead to eight with 1:55 left. Miami held on to win 102-92 and improve to 4-2 on the season and snap a two-game skid.
The Heat's two stars saved Miami from what would have been grand theft auto had the Timberwolves managed to steal the game. Playing without Ricky Rubio, the Timberwolves fell behind 25-9 and found themselves in a 20-point hole in the closing minutes of the second quarter. Miami played a spectacular first quarter, seemingly making every shot down the court. Luol Deng, a player some criticized as a subpar shooter, made two 3-pointers in the opening period. But Miami became complacent in the second half, allowing the Wolves to hang around and later put the game in danger.
Wade scored 25 points in his second consecutive game, shooting 11-of-16 from the field and again coming through in the clutch. The 2006 NBA Finals MVP also added eight assists; in one 19-second sequence, Wade found Deng for back-to-back layups. Overall, Wade has managed to play well consistently despite the back-to-backs; he had a strong fourth-quarter against Charlotte in his fourth game in five nights. It's a welcome start for a player many doubted before the season.
Meanwhile, Bosh shook off a tough start to continue his own great start to the season. The 6-foot-11 center didn't score until the closing minutes of the first quarter, but scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth period. Bosh shot 9-of-21 from the field and a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line. He also grabbed seven rebounds, but that's a little deceptive because he grabbed two offensive boards on one empty possession. The Timberwolves grabbed 17 offensive boards, getting second-chance points to stay in the game. Still, Bosh's fourth-quarter offense was vital.
Miami native Udonis Haslem made his season debut against the Timberwolves and went a perfect 3-for-3 in first-quarter action. Chris Andersen and Justin Hamilton both missed the game with injuries, so Erik Spoelstra called upon Haslem to provide support in the frontcourt. Haslem, though, picked up three fouls in the first half. Miami is still a little small, and Nikola Pekovic exploited that when Shawne Williams had to defend him down low. Pekovic finished with 19 points and 11 boards.
Deng finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting in a solid game for him; he made a behind-the-back move in transition to elude a defender and pass the ball to Shabazz Napier for a layup. Later in the game, Napier found James Ennis on a fast-break for a tomahawk dunk.
After struggling the past couple games, Norris Cole finished with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting from the field, six assists and just one turnover. Miami as a team had 26 assists, executing beautiful ball movement after a mostly stagnant offensive game in Charlotte.
The Heat will visit the Dallas Mavericks Sunday at 7:30 p.m.