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Wade, Heat hold off late rally by Thunder

Dec 7, 2008 - 4:29 AM By Christopher Stock PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

MIAMI (Ticker) -- The Miami Heat nearly blew a chance to put together their first three-game winning streak of the season - against the lowly Oklahoma City Thunder, no less.

But they clamped down on defense over the last three minutes, repeatedly forcing the Thunder into bad shots and escaped with a 105-99 victory on Saturday.

Oklahoma City - which was looking for just its third win all season - staged a 17-5 run in the fourth quarter, pulling even at 90-90 after falling behind by as many as 15. It pulled within 85-77 after an alley-oop from Earl Watson to Green. A 3-pointer by Watson, who had 12 assists off the bench, cut the deficit to 85-80. Kevin Durant tied the game with 6:03 remaining, but the Thunder could not pull ahead.

"Give our guys a lot of credit, they did fight, but we came up short," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "Not one guy in there is happy with moral victories. We have enough of those."

Dwyane Wade kicked out to rookie Mario Chalmers for an open 3-pointer to put the Heat back ahead for good. Shawn Marion added a layup and Wade buried a short jumper as Miami began to put away the game.

"That is a very good, young, talented team," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They just do not go away."

Marion knocked down two free throws to give the Heat a 99-93 lead with 1:41 left. Moments later, Marion's dunk effectively sealed the game. The veteran forward finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Wade, the NBA's leading scorer at 28.9 points per game, scored 38 points to lead the way for the Heat. He hit 14-of-24 from the floor and 10-of-15 from the free-throw line. The All-Star guard added seven assists and five rebounds.

"My goal is to get back to greatness; if I ever was there, my goal is to get back there," Wade said. "That was my tagline coming from Beijing - back to greatness."

Udonis Haslem added 15 points and 14 rebounds for the Heat, who put together three wins in a row for the first time since April 2007.

The Thunder were carried by rookie point guard Russell Westbrook, who had the best game of his young career with 30 points and seven rebounds. Jeff Green added 21 and nine.

"Every game I am learning," Westbrook said. "I try to slow down and see things slower. I'm starting to see things slower every game."

The Heat took a comfortable lead early on. Wade buried a driving layup, then the stole the inbounds pass and scored again to give the Heat a 19-10 lead. He knocked down a pair of jumpers and another layup to give him 15 points in the opening quarter as the Heat led, 36-27, at the end of the period.

"That first half, he was getting everything he wanted," Marion said. "It was going good, but we couldn't put them away."

Miami led 59-54 at halftime and used a 10-2 run to start the third quarter to build a comfortable 69-56 lead. Haslem scored six points in the run.