The Miami Heat lived to play another day following their 97-90 win over Charlotte in Game 6 of their NBA astern Conference first round playoff series. The victory evened the series at three games each and forced a decisive Game 7 on Sunday at American Airlines Arena in Miami.
As he had done for so many years, Dwyane Wade took charge late in the game to lead the Heat to victory. His two key three-pointers at the end kept the Hornets at bay and neutralized another spectacular effort from Kemba Walker.
After Miami took a 27-24 lead at the end of the first quarter, Miami expanded the margin to 59-46 late in the second quarter. They led 59-50 at the half.
Al Jefferson’s 10-footer brought Charlotte within 71-68 late in the third period. They led 75-70 heading into the fourth quarter.
Goran Dragic had a jumper with 6:05 remaining to put the Heat ahead 85-76. Wade hit his first three-pointer since December to keep the lead at 90-81 with 3:05 remaining. He had missed his last 21 attempts.
Walker then took the offensive load for his team by scoring 12 straight points to bring Charlotte within 90-88 with 1:39 remaining. Wade connected again from long range with 46 seconds left to restore the five point lead. The Hornets got no closer than five points the rest of the way.
Wade led the Heat with 23 points, but also contributed six rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Luol Deng added 21 points for Miami, who shot 46 percent for the game, including eight of 16 from three point range.
“Dwyane feels most alive when its competition is at its highest and the game feels like this,” said Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra.
Walker had 37 points for Charlotte and Al Jefferson contributed 18. Cody Zeller chipped in 12 points off the bench. The Hornets shot 42 percent for the game.
Charlotte must quickly get over the disappointment of the lost opportunity to close out Miami. The winner of Sunday’s game goes on to play the winner of the Indiana vs. Toronto series, also tied at 3-3.