With 2:53 seconds left in the second quarter of Game 2 of the Miami Heat's first round series against the Charlotte Hornets, Goran Dragic nailed a 3. On Miami's subsequent possession, two Heat players set a double-screen to set up Dragic for another 3. He buried it.
About a minute-and-a-half later, Dwyane Wade drove the lane and found Luol Deng in the corner for a 3. Boom. And then on the Heat's last possession of the half, Wade dribbled the ball before rising up for one of his patented mid-range jumpers as the shot clock expired. It went in.
It was that kind of night for the Miami Heat.
The Heat shot a scorching 58 percent from the field Wednesday night -- including 9-of-16 from beyond the arc -- to win 115-103 and take a commanding 2-0 lead in their series against Charlotte. The Hornets cut the Heat lead to seven late in the fourth quarter, but two consecutive steals led to breakaway opportunities for Wade and Deng, putting Miami up 111-98 with 88 seconds remaining.
After two games, the dominant narrative of this series has flipped the script on what many pundits had expected. The Heat, a team that struggled from 3-point range -- even after their improved offensive shifts post-All Star break -- have made 18 3s thus far. Charlotte, by contrast, has made seven in two games -- and shot an abysmal 1-for-16 from beyond the arc Wednesday.
Dragic shot a perfect 3-of-3 from downtown, two of which came during that decisive second-quarter run that broke the game open for Miami. He looked like the player Miami traded for a year ago, contributing 18 points on 6-of-12 shooting from the field, dishing out four assists and even coming up with a nice block on a Kemba Walker drive. Dragic got into the lane for some baskets when Wade and Hassan Whiteside rested to keep Miami's offense humming along.
As good as Dragic played, though, Erik Spoelstra turned to rookie Josh Richardson during crunch time. The Heat's 2015 second-round pick scored 15 points off the bench, making two 3s of his own and playing his usual intense defense. When Charlotte crept back in the game, Spoelstra substituted Deng for Whiteside and had a lineup of Richardson, Wade, Joe Johnson, Justise Winslow and Deng. Miami switched every pick-and-roll, and it helped Miami get those back-to-back steals. It's such a coup for Miami to have two rookies who play excellent defense.
Wade played a spectacular game in his own right, scoring 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting from the field, dishing out eight assits and coming up with a huge block on a Kemba Walker 3 as the shot clock expired. This was a Hall of Fame-worthy performance -- Wade covered a tremendous amount of ground on defense and made great passes to teammates for open shots. When the 2006 NBA Finals MVP saw Jeremy Lin on him in the first quarter, Wade drove straight to the basket for an and-one. And when Wade made a jumper over Courtney Lee with 2:46 remaining in the game, he jawed with the Charlotte guard all the way down the court. I like this Wade.
Hassan Whiteside shot a perfect 8-for-8 from the field for 17 points and 13 boards. Winslow made four jumpers off the bench, emerging as a player who opposing defenses will have to honor. (On the flip side, Winslow flubbed a wide open dunk.) Deng added 16 points and six boards, and any Heat fan couldn't ask for a better start to the series.
The series moves to Charlotte, with Game 3 slated to start on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.