MIAMI — There was a brief time, specifically three consecutive seasons during an 11-year career, when the 3-point shot was a part of Dwyane Wade’s game.
The perennial All-Star guard averaged 73 made 3-pointers from 2008-11. But for the other eight seasons, his first five in the NBA and past three, he has averaged 15.
To Wade, the numbers mean little.
"I can shoot the 3-ball, I just decided not to," Wade said. "I’m not Ray Allen or these guys, but I can make it. I just decide not to.
"Guys always give me confidence … say, ‘Shoot it’ … I decide when I want to shoot it."
Wade decided to take three 3-pointers Saturday night, hitting two to help fuel the Miami Heat’s second-half charge in a 99-87 victory against the Indiana Pacers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Allen, the NBA’s greatest long-distance shooter ever, sank all four 3-point tries in the fourth quarter to help the Heat pull away. But Wade’s two 3-pointers were just as pivotal.
He replaced LeBron James with 5.7 seconds left in the third quarter — James was dealing with a hamstring cramp — and immediately hit a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds remaining to give Miami a 74-67 lead going into the fourth.
"I wasn’t going to leave until I seen what he was going to do," said James, who made a brief trip to the locker room before returning. He finished with 26 points.
Wade then opened the fourth period with another 3-pointer to put the Heat up by 10.
"I don’t know why people keep acting like he’s 47 out there playing, you’d think he was (Heat assistant coach Bob) McAdoo out there playing," center Chris Bosh said. "He’s 32 and in the prime of his career. We can rely on him. He’s our guy."
Despite a scoreless first quarter, Wade finished with 23 points to equal his output in Game 2 of the series. He scored 27 points in Game 1.
Wade has been a fourth-quarter stud in this series. He has scored 28 points on 13-of-18 shooting (72.2 percent) in the three final periods.
In Game 3, Wade was at his best in the third quarter. He scored 10 points, hitting all four shots from the floor.
"We need our scorers to be aggressive and Dwyane Wade is sensing that now," coach Erik Spoelstra said. "He has been able to create some opportunities that not an average player can make. It is whatever is needed now."