Dwyane Wade watched the 3-pointer drop perfectly through the net, then turned upcourt and extended the fingers on his right hand.
And he screamed.
“In kid-friendly terms,” Wade would say later, “I was telling him he was hot.”
That hand – that player – had never been hotter in a postseason game, either. And that’s why the Miami Heat’s season isn’t over.
Playing what might have been his final game in Miami, Wade scored 46 points, 30 in the second half – both franchise records – and the Heat beat the Boston Celtics, 101-92, on Sunday in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference first-round series.
He hit 16 of 24 shots, 5 of 7 from 3-point range, and outscored the Celtics in the fourth quarter, 19-15.
“Phenomenal,” Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
“Greatness,” offered Heat coach Erik Spoelstra.
Heat forward Quentin Richardson went even further, likening his teammate to a superhero.
“Sometimes, you know, he puts on the cape, man,” Richardson said. “There’s not a lot of things you can do when he’s playing that way.”
Boston would concur.
The Celtics still lead the best-of-seven 3-1, and get a chance to close it out in Boston on Tuesday night. But their worst fear came true Sunday.
Miami has hope.
“They did what they were supposed to do, which is defend the home court,” Celtics forward Kevin Garnett said. “And now we’re thinking the same thing going back home.”
Richardson scored 20 points and Michael Beasley added 15 for the Heat, which wasted an 18-point, first-half lead before digging deep to extend the season.
Rajon Rondo led the Celtics with 23 points. Garnett had 18 points and 12 rebounds, Paul Pierce scored 16 and Ray Allen added 15 for Boston, which was bidding for its first 4-0 sweep of a series since 1986.
“It’s not a big deal,” Rondo said. “We just have to close it out now in five. We’re confident.”
Cavaliers 121, at Bulls 98: LeBron James had 37 points, 11 assists and 12 rebounds, Antawn Jamison added 24 points and Cleveland beat Chicago to go up 3-1 in the first-round series.
“I’ve done some great things in the past, I’ll do some great things in the future,” James said. “But we’re in the present now, and I’m feeling pretty good.”
The Bulls got 21 apiece from Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, who also pulled down 20 rebounds.
“Right now, it’s all about winning games,” Noah said. “That’s what makes the city happy and us happy at the end of the day.”
At Spurs 92, Mavericks 89: Tim Duncan had a miserable 34th birthday and Manu Ginobili looked as bad at times as his bandaged-up nose, but George Hill scored 29 points and San Antonio beat Dallas to take a 3-1 lead in their first-round series.
The Spurs have won three in a row since coach Gregg Popovich called his role players “dogs” after the opening game of the series.
San Antonio’s “Big Three” – Ginobili (17 points), Tony Parker (10 points) and Duncan (four points) – combined for 31 points, or two more than Hill, the No. 26 overall pick in 2008 out of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
“If you tell me before the game we hold the Big Three to those numbers, we figure we win the game,” said Mavs star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds.
At Jazz 117, Nuggets 10: Carlos Boozer had 31 points and 13 rebounds, Deron Williams added 24 points and 13 assists, and Utah held off a late charge to beat Denver for a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference playoff series.
Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points and led the Nuggets back within range late in the fourth, but Denver lost for the third consecutive time in the series.