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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Dwyane Wade hadn’t made a 3-point shot since December, enduring a streak of 22 consecutive misses.
That all changed on Friday night with Miami’s season on the line.
The 34-year-old star hit both 3-pointers he attempted, including a big one with 46 seconds left, finishing with 23 points as the Heat beat the Charlotte Hornets 97-90 to force a decisive game in the first-round series.
“If we were going to lose, I was going to go out shooting it tonight,” Wade said.
Wade scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, including two 3s. He said he was “itching” to get some 3-point shots off after attempting just one in the series.
“Once I saw one fall, anybody who is scorer knows the basket gets a little bigger,” Wade said. “Once that first 3 went in my confidence grew.”
Luol Deng was 9 of 14 from the field and finished with 21 points, while Goran Dragic added 14 points and seven rebounds for the Heat, who will host Game 7 on Sunday.
“I play for these moments,” Wade said.
The Heat overcame a playoff career-high 37 points from Kemba Walker to hand the Hornets only their 11th loss of the season at home. Al Jefferson had 18 points and nine rebounds, and Cody Zeller had 12 points off the bench for Charlotte.
“He’s not normally known to be a 3-point threat, but big-time players make big-time plays,” Walker said of Wade. “That is what he did. He rose the occasion.”
With Miami leading by two with less than a minute remaining, Wade knocked down a 3 from the left wing and added an 18-foot turnaround jump shot over Courtney Lee to help seal the win.
“I’ve seen Dwyane enough over the years that it just becomes winning plays — whatever those may be,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “It’s borne out of great competition and it brings the absolute best out of him. He works on it all the time but he never shoots it.”
The Hornets missed a golden opportunity to advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 14 years.
They trailed the entire second half, never quite able to get over the hump and the Heat made timely shots and grabbed crucial rebounds.
Miami outrebounded Charlotte 46-31.
Walker gave it all he had.
The 6-foot-1 point guard somehow got an up-and-under layup to fall amid the trees and hit big shots in the fourth quarter, including a 3-pointer from the left wing to beat the shot clock and cut Miami’s lead to 85-81.
Walker drove the lane and drew an and-one with 3 minutes to go, sending Hassan Whiteside to the bench with his sixth foul. Walker then added a razzle-dazzle step-back jumper to trim the Heat lead to 90-86 with 2:12 left in the game.
Walker had a chance to tie the game with about minute to play, but missed a pull-up jumper.
“They had their response Wednesday night. We had our response tonight,” Spoelstra said. “And now we get to hear the two best words in the English language: Game 7.”
With their season on the line, the Heat shot 60 percent from the field in the first half to open a 59-50 lead. Deng and Wade led the way, combining for 29 points on 13-of-19 shooting and the Heat dominated the glass, outrebounding the Hornets 23-11.
Walker said the Heat made more plays down the stretch and deserved to win.
“We have to lock back in and watch film and be better in Game 7,” Walker said. “And we will.”
Heat: Had a 13-4 advantage in second-chance points in the first three quarters.
Hornets: Made all 16 free throws attempts in the first half. Charlotte entered the night first in the playoffs in free throw percentage at 82.5 percent.
BATUM RE-INJURES FOOT
Hornets forward Nicolas Batum left the game in the second half with a strained left foot — the same injury that kept him out of two previous games in the series. He only played 15 minutes.
Batum said before the game he was “running on adrenaline” after his wife gave birth to the couple’s first son early Friday morning. Batum said he’d only slept about two hours.
“To have a baby is always an amazing thing, but to have a baby before Game 6 with a chance to close a series — that is pretty crazy, too,” Batum said before the game. “It’s a unique experience.”
STARS IN THE HOUSE
NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson was in the crowd, along with former Carolina Panthers and current Green Bay Packers defensive end Julius Peppers.
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