Shaquille O’Neal nicknamed Dwyane Wade ”Flash” for a reason.
Leaking out on the break and blazing to the rim, Wade turned a tight game against the Minnesota Timberwolves into a route in the blink of an eye.
Wade scored 16 of his 32 points in the decisive third quarter, and LeBron James added 27 points, 10 assists and six rebounds to lead the Miami Heat to a 111-92 victory on Friday night.
Chris Bosh added 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Heat, who trailed at halftime, but opened the third quarter with a staggering 25-1 run to take control. Miami reduced its magic number for clinching the Southeast Division to one, with Orlando’s victory over Charlotte on Friday preventing the Heat from wrapping it up.
”You wish you could just simulate the rest of these games and get to the postseason,” James said. ”Let me get my rest. We’ve still got work to do. We’re not taking these games for granted.”
Kevin Love had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who’ve lost nine games in a row. Love’s played the last two games after missing the previous three with a strained left groin, and he said he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to play Saturday night at Memphis.
The Wolves led 52-51 after a spirited first half, but missed their first 14 shots of the third quarter to let the game get out of reach.
”When they get the ball, he gets to the other end of the floor really fast,” Wolves forward Anthony Tolliver said of Wade. ”We kept hesitating for that one split second, and that’s all he needs to get in front of you. That turned into dunks for them and layups for them.”
Martell Webster had one of his best games of the season for the Wolves with 22 points. But his flow was interrupted in the first half by foul trouble and James locked down Minnesota’s other top offensive threat, holding Michael Beasley to 13 points.
The Heat still trail Eastern Conference-leading Chicago by 2 1/2 games and had a rough couple of games earlier this week with a loss to the Cavaliers and a grind-it-out win over the Washington Wizards. So, they weren’t about to drop a game to the worst team in the West in the same week.
”We played two tough ones with Cleveland and Washington,” Wade said. ”To come out here and get a lead in the second half and be able to coast to the win was great. Just try to come out in the next one and do the same thing.”
The Heat thought they were finally putting things together with eight wins in nine games when they had what coach Erik Spoelstra called ”a hiccup” against the Cavaliers. Miami trailed by as many as 23 points in a 102-90 loss at Cleveland, the working-class city James dumped on national television over the summer in favor of glitzy, star-studded Miami.
Despite getting Beasley and Webster in early foul trouble, the Heat let the young Wolves hang around, and Minnesota made its move in the second quarter. Webster and Anthony Tolliver hit threes, and Luke Ridnour added two more from long range, the last giving the Wolves a 52-49 lead late in the first half.
And then, just like that, it was over.
The Heat stormed out of the break with an effort so dominating that Wolves coach Kurt Rambis could only shake his head and mutter a helpless chuckle after watching Wade throw down dunk after dunk in transition.
”They just came out and smoked us, whatever it was (25)-1 run,” Rambis said. ”We couldn’t find ways to get stops, couldn’t protect the paint, couldn’t score. That kind of sealed our fate.”
Wade started the period with an acrobatic reverse, added a jaw-dropping reverse alley-oop from James and made his first eight shots of the quarter. He also chased down Wayne Ellington on a break and pinned his layup attempt against the glass for some dynamic defense.
The gut punch for the Wolves came late in the fourth with James on the free-throw line. He missed the shot, but the Wolves didn’t realize he only got one, so James grabbed the ball from an equally clueless Bosh and threw down a dunk.
”CB got a turnover and a rebound, and I got a steal and a bucket all on the same play,” James said. ”It might be on (SportsCenter’s) ‘Not Top 10’ and ‘Top 10’ plays at the same time. That’d be pretty cool.”
NOTES: Wolves C Darko Milicic left in the first quarter with a sprained ankle and didn’t return. … Heat F Mike Miller missed his third straight game with a sprained right knee. … Heat F Udonis Haslem, who’s been out since November with a broken left foot, continues to work his way back. Spoelstra said he definitely won’t play the next two games. … The Timberwolves production crew played Carly Simon’s ”You’re So Vain” before introducing the Heat.