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Wade sinks game-winner as Heat top Hornets

Dec 19, 2006 - 4:36 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- It was Dwyane Wade to the rescue once again.

Wade banked in the winning shot with 1.3 seconds remaining to cap a remarkable comeback and give the Miami Heat a 101-99 victory over the New Orleans Hornets.

Wade's basket capped a 13-2 closing run for the Heat, who overcame a 63-point first half by the Hornets, the lowest-scoring team in the league.

The 2006 Finals MVP, Wade finished with 29 points, including 16 in the final period, on 12-of-25 shooting. He added nine assists and five rebounds.

"Its wonderful to have a great offensive player to win it for you at the end, but we would not have won the game with his shot unless we had four 24-second shot-clock violations," Miami coach Pat Riley said.

The Heat limited the Hornets to 36 second-half points and forced two 24-shot violations in the last two minutes.

"(Our defense) was great down the stretch," Wade said. "That was the kind of defense we played last year that really made us champions. When it was time to shut down and lock up we did that. We did a great job with team defense."

"It was a team who shows when it wants to play defense with great intensity and awareness that they can," Riley said. "We just don't. That's been our problem a good portion of the year.

Trailing by eight points with 5:40 left in the game, Wade converted a three-point play, dished to Jason Kapono for a 3-pointer from the left corner, then drove through four defenders for a lefthanded layup that tied the game at 97-97 with 1:41 left.

Miami's defense then forced consecutive 24-second violations and, after Alonzo Mourning and James Posey split a pair from the charity stripe, the Hornets' Chris Paul drove the lane for a basket that tied the score at 99-99 with 18 seconds to play.

After a timeout, Miami cleared out for Wade, who drove to his left inside the foul line, turned and banked in the winner from about 10 feet over 6-8 Linton Johnson.

"It was about time. I haven't hit one all year," Wade said. "I really didn't want to give them any time left, but I had to go before they brought the double-team. It all came at the right time."

A 3-pointer by the Hornets' Jannero Pargo at the buzzer did not draw iron, giving New Orleans its ninth loss in 11 games.

"We played hard for about 40 or 42 minutes and they made a strong push in the fourth quarter and D-Wade hit a big shot to win the game," Paul said.

Udonis Haslem had 16 points and seven rebounds and Jason Williams and Posey chipped in 15 for Miami (11-13), which has won consecutive games for just the third time this season.

Wade's heroics spoiled outstanding games by Paul and Rasual Butler. Paul just missed his sixth double-double in eight December contests with 26 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Butler scored 21 points and added eight rebounds.

"We did not do a good job down the stretch executing," Butler said. "We are a better team than what we showed down the stretch. There were too many shot-clock violations. You got to get that shot up, make or miss.

"You have to find a way to get a good quality shot up. We didn't do that. We didn't come up with the stops that we needed. This one was on us."

Miami led by as many as nine points in the first quarter before the Hornets scored 37 points in the second quarter to take a 63-54 lead into the half. The Hornets took their first lead of the game, 52-49, after consecutive 3-pointers by Butler, who scored 10 points during the period. Paul capped his 17-point half with a shot from the arc at the buzzer.

"We were playing offensively to try to win the game throughout the course of the whole game," Riley said. "It would have been a loss if we didn't make some adjustments. One of the adjustments we tried to make in the second half was to try to take the ball out of (Chris Paul's) hands. We were fortunate to be able to do that."

The Hornets committed just three turnovers in the opening half while shooting 54 percent (26-of-49), but the Heat defense picked it up after Riley called a timeout after Hilton Armstrong's dunk gave the Hornets a 67-58 lead with 8:42 left in the third.

The intensity picked up and Miami got as close as two before Butler hit a pair of 3-pointers in a span of 2:45 that gave the Hornets a 97-88 lead with six minutes left.

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