Heat win despite Wade's injury
For one game, the Miami Heat got by without All-Star MVP Dwyane
They can only hope it's not longer than that.
Michael Beasley had 23 points and 11 rebounds and the Heat overcame the early loss of Wade to a sprained left calf by rallying to beat the New Jersey Nets 87-84 on Wednesday night for their season-high fourth straight victory.
"It was good," said Wade, who was injured in the first quarter and did not return. "That's what we're going to need. The guys have been playing well lately. It's been team wins, not one guy carrying the load. They continued to play with that confidence. A lot of different guys made plays. I was able to watch and I was proud of them."
The Heat got a lot of help in using a game-closing 13-4 spurt to prevent the Nets (5-49) from winning consecutive games for the first time this season.
Jermaine O'Neal, who strained his lower back in a first-quarter fall, hit three free throws and had two blocks down the stretch. Quentin Richardson hit a big tying 3-pointer and Beasley had two big baskets and a shared block with O'Neal on layup attempt by Kris Humphries that could have put New Jersey ahead with 28 seconds to go.
"I told the guys I was proud of them for the gutsy win on the road with Dwyane being out," Miami coach Erik Spoelstra said. "...I was proud of our mental toughness in the fourth quarter."
Richardson finished with 16 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, while O'Neal had nine points and seven rebounds in 22 1/2 minutes. Wade had eight points, snapping his streak of 148 straight games in double figures, the second-longest active streak in the NBA behind LeBron James (255).
"I talked to Dwyane at the half and he basically let me know I had to step up for the team," Beasley said. "I just wanted to come out and be aggressive. I wanted to show my team that I can play and they can trust in me, especially with our leading scorer going down."
Brook Lopez had 26 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, whose only basket in the final 4:56 came on a goaltending call at the buzzer. Devin Harris added 18 points.
The Nets appeared to headed for their sixth win of the season when Keyon Dooling (14 points) converted a three-point play with 4:56 to play to put them ahead 80-74.
The prospects looked even brighter when O'Neal missed two free throws on the Heat's ensuring possession.
However, the Nets went ice cold, missing 11 of their final 12 shots, and Miami just kept on coming.
"There haven't been many games where (we) walked away thinking you should have won that game," Dooling said. "This is one of those games we should have won."
Carlos Arroyo hit a free throw with 3:49 to play to make it a five-point game and Beasley followed with a drive down the lane and a short bank shot to get the Heat within 80-79.
Harris re-established a three-point lead with two free throws with 2:12 left, but Richardson tied the game 20 seconds later with his 3.
O'Neal put Miami ahead for good at 83-82 with 1:11 left, making the second of two free throws after blocking a Harris drive at the other end of the floor.
O'Neal combined with Beasley on the other block on Kris Humphries with 28 seconds to go. The New Jersey forward went to the basket and O'Neal got a piece of the shot and Beasley blocked it after it hit the backboard.
"When you let a team get momentum like that it puts a lot of pressure on yourself," said Humphries, who said he should have dunked the ball. "With our track record we haven't been able to handle those situations down the stretch, so it's a tough one. We're getting better. We're right there."
Richardson added two free throws with 23 seconds to go and O'Neal two more with 16.5 seconds to go to ice the game.
Despite the injury to Wade and the loss of O'Neal for most of the first half after a fall, the Heat held the lead from the middle of the second quarter until New Jersey scored eight straight points in a run that bridged the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth.
A dunk by Lopez and a jumper by Dooling, who opened the final quarter with a 3-point play, gave New Jersey a 73-70 lead.
NOTES: New Jersey never trailed in its win over Charlotte on Tuesday night, marking the first time that has happened on the road since March, 2007. ... Official Eric Dalen was hit in the face with a ball after a basket. ... This was the second close game between the teams. Miami won the first 81-80 on Wade's 3-pointer at the buzzer.