A rough day of upsets for No. 2 seeds in the NCAA tournament nearly stretched to the NBA.
Missouri went down and so did Duke.
And the Miami Heat were another No. 2 seed that almost let a dose of March Madness totally spoil their day.
The Heat, of course, have the kind of arsenal the college programs don’t — a couple of superstars in LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
James scored 29 points, Wade had 12 points and 10 rebounds and the Miami Heat held on to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 84-78 on Friday night.
”That’s the luxury of having two guys can do that,” Wade said. ”He had it going, obviously, and I’m there if he needs me.”
The Heat needed James and Wade after a 29-point lead in the third quarter fell to single digits. Led by a hard-charging Lou Williams and Evan Turner, the Sixers sliced Miami’s lead to four points.
James, though, refused to let the lead completely slip away. He hit a pull-up jumper and sank a pair of free throws in the final 90 seconds to help the Heat end a four-game road losing streak. The Heat had lost two straight games overall.
”It’s never good to give up a 20-point lead,” James said. ”But when you have to, when you have to close out a game, it’s good to see you can keep the lead and win.”
The Heat, the defending conference champions, trail only the Bulls in the East.
Heat forward Shane Battier, who starred at Duke, was well aware that Lehigh upset the Blue Devils 75-70 to become the second No. 15 seed to beat a No. 2 during a wild Friday in the NCAA tournament.
”The Philly faithful were very kind to give me updates the whole time, in the way the Philly fans only can,” Battier said.
At least he didn’t go 0 for 2.
Sixers part owner Will Smith brought his power family — wife Jada Pinkett Smith and son Jaden Smith — to the Wells Fargo Center, and sat courtside for the second time this season. He stood and applauded when the Sixers went on their burst, and waved and smiled at fans.
Turner had 13 points, Williams 12, and Andre Iguodala had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
”I thought that once we got a little angry, we channeled it in the right direction,” Sixers coach Doug Collins said. ”You don’t want to dig yourself that kind of hole, but it’s sure nice to know the game’s not over.”
Smith, filming a movie in the area, showed up at halftime and worked his movie star mojo on the Sixers.
Down 61-32 early in the third, the Sixers whittled the lead to 13 by the end of the quarter, then got hot in the fourth. Jodie Meeks hit a 3-pointer, followed with a dunk, then Turner made a 3 to cut it to 73-68.
Turner has turned into Philadelphia’s best player since his recent promotion to the starting lineup. He had six points through three quarters, but scored seven in the first 9 minutes of the fourth. His jumper made it a five-point game, and then he fought for an offensive rebound and wiggled his way through a pair of defenders to make it 77-72.
Smith tossed T-shirts to the crowd as 20,396 fans were going wild as another massive upset was brewing.
It was just too late.
Williams tried, hitting a 20-footer to make it 80-76 with 90 seconds left.
James coolly answered with a pull-up jumper. Williams drove the baseline for a layup that made it 82-78. James made two free throws and the Heat could breathe a huge sigh of relief.
They almost lost to a Sixers team that missed their last 13 shots of the first half and scored a season low in points for a half (30).
”When we got down 27, we said we were going to keep fighting and get back in this because we felt we could,” forward Elton Brand said.
Some of the players were star-struck with Smith in the front row. Chris Bosh, who scored 10 points, took repeated looks at the ”Miami” singer each time he was around Smith. Smith cracked up the crowd when he mouthed the words to ”Gettin’ Jiggy With It” as it played during a timeout. His hat askew, he stood and applauded when the Sixers cut it to 69-55 late in the third.
The Fresh Prince gave the Sixers fans a reason to go wild.
The team sure didn’t in the first half.
With a trip to Chicago up ahead on Saturday, the Sixers might want to bring him along.
The Heat appeared on their way toward a romp and raced to a 27-point lead in the first half. James hit a sweet fadeaway for his first basket, then tossed in a 3-pointer on the run for his second one. By the time he hit a step-back jumper late in the first, the Heat led 23-7.
James made 12 of 20 shots and had seven rebounds and eight assists.
”I felt great today,” James said. ”It felt like I had my legs. I’ve been feeling pretty good on the road.”
Playing the Sixers, a team they knocked out of the first round in last season’s playoffs, was just what the Heat needed to bust their road slump. The Heat dropped games at Utah and to the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month, then lost this week at Orlando and Chicago. The beat the Sixers for the 10th straight time in the regular season
Notes: Sixers C Spencer Hawes (Achilles) sat out but will play against the Bulls on Saturday. … The Heat are 3-0 vs. the Sixers this season. … The 78 points match the fewest allowed by the Heat this season.