© Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
If you’re going to lose a game, you might as well lose it to a legend running a victory lap. As Dwyane Wade saw his shot blocked, then recovered it to get off the YMCA-style, one-footed old man jumper, time froze, for just a moment.
Then, as the stunned faces of every player, fan and coach in the arena made clear, an eruption of South Florida joy occurred. The 37-year-old Wade evaded his teammates like a kid being chased by friends at recess, then leapt atop the scorer’s table to pound his chest and soak up the adoration of the Miami faithful.
It was a fitting way to cap off Wade’s final encounter with the Warriors. Here are three notes from the Warriors’ 126-125 loss to the Miami Heat:
“Make a masterpiece like Mona Lisa, Shout out to the reaper, I drop ether”
Wade already has his masterpiece of a career. He won his first championship back in 2006, then added a couple more in 2012 and 2013 with the help of LeBron James. He will go down in NBA history as one of the greatest shooting guards of all time.
He’s made 13 All-Star teams (albeit with one honorary nod this year), is 30th all-time in NBA scoring with 22,797 points (Kevin Durant is hot on his heels with 22,592 points), 46th all-time with 5,615 assists (and with a very good chance to finish 41st, and pass Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Larry Bird, Chauncey Billups and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar by the end of this season), 33rd all-time with 1,597 steals, and 122nd all-time with 873 blocks.
So, it was fitting that he would take his last chance against the Warriors, with the Miami Heat sputtering through the regular season at six games below .500, verging on a rejection from the playoffs, and send a parting shot with this one-footed dagger:
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 28, 2019
Head coach Steve Kerr was able to appreciate the sentimentality of the moment, and said he, “knew it was going in as soon as it left his hand.”
Steve Kerr on Wade’s winner: “I knew it was going in as soon as it left his hand. I was like: ‘That thing’s the perfect distance long to bank in.’” pic.twitter.com/XhT3k0wjo9
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 28, 2019
It fits in with a couple lines off the track “SUPER SAIYAN SUPERMAN | ZUPER ZA1YAN ZUPERMAN” (yeah, the title, is a bit extra) by South Florida rapper Denzel Curry, who grew up in an around Miami. Curry raps, “Make a masterpiece like Mona Lisa, Shout out to the reaper, I drop ether.”
Wade’s got his masterpiece, and with the NBA career reaper looming as his career comes to an end, Wade dropped some game-winning heat (pun intended), reminding people who he is and what he’s accomplished.
Whenever the Warriors trail a game by a lopsided margin like the 24 points they trailed by tonight, you sit back and wait, wondering when they’ll decide to turn it on. At the very least, it’s safe to assume that, with Steph Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson all on the floor, they’re going to close that gap to single digits and turn a blowout into a competitive game.
The cause for that lopsided margin, and for the Heat’s ability to survive the Warriors’ late lead-grabbing push, was thanks to some outstanding shooting from a team which, with a 34.8 percent average from 3-point range (9th-worst in the NBA), generally struggles from behind the arc. But with a renaissance man like Dwyane Wade at the helm for his 25 point (10-of-17, 5-of-8 from 3-pt), 7 rebound, 3 assist, 2 block, 1 steal (and 4 turnover) night, the Heat had an in-game shooting renaissance.
Wade and Goran Dragic 27 points (7-of-11, 4-of-7 from 3-pt, 9-of-9 from FT) combined for 52 points, including 27 from 3-point range. Together, they went 17-of-28 (60.7 percent) from the field and 9-of-15 (60 percent) from deep. Neither Wade (32.6 percent from 3-pt on the year, with a 1.3 percent bump from tonight) nor Dragic (32.1 percent from 3-pt this year, with a 2.4 percent bump from tonight) are good 3-point shooters. In fact, they’re both well below the league average of 35.4 percent on threes.
As a team, the below-average Heat went 18-of-40 (45 percent) from deep tonight, compared to the Warriors, who are the second-most efficient 3-point shooting team in the league at 38.4 percent, who went 17-of-48 (35.4 percent) from three.
Big three plus… let’s see
The Warriors’ trident of Curry, Durant and Thompson came up big on the scoresheet tonight. The rest of the team? Not so much. Yet, even Curry and Durant struggled from range tonight, and Durant’s uncharacteristic missed free throw at the end of the game allowed Wade the chance to win it. Here’s what those three did tonight:
Curry: 24 points (9-of-20, 4-of-14 from 3-pt, 2-of-3 from FT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 turnovers
Durant: 29 points (9-of-21, 3-of-12 from 3-pt, 8-of-10 from FT), 5 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, 2 turnovers
Thompson: 36 points (14-of-23, 7-of-15 from 3-pt, 1-of-1 from FT), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals
The only other Warriors player who scored in double digits tonight was Jordan Bell (10 points, 2-of-5 from the field and 6-of-10 on free throws, with 6 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and a block), who sat out the game in Charlotte with flu-like symptoms. Kevon Looney, meanwhile, didn’t score a single point as a starter in his 13 minutes. Draymond Green added just 5 points on four shots, while Quinn Cook was the team’s third-highest scorer with 8 points on 4-of-6 shooting.
Still, it wasn’t really the lack of bench scoring that was the Warriors’ undoing. It was poor defense, which allowed for countless open outside looks to a team that should have no business making as many as they did tonight, coupled with the lack of rebounding in the absence of DeMarcus Cousins (48 Heat rebounds to 37 Warriors rebounds), that allowed for second-chance points for Miami, and not enough second-chance points for the Warriors.
The Warriors actually took care of the ball well, and drew four more turnovers than Miami, but the Heat capitalized with 19 points off turnovers to the Warriors’ 11. Again, all this is moot if Wade had not made an absurd game winner, but it does show how much value DeMarcus Cousins brings to the team (despite the slander he receives for being inconsistent… after coming off a torn Achilles as a nearly 300-pound center).
As Durant said after the game, “They deserved to win this game.”
Kevin Durant on Dwyane Wade’s game-winner and his career. This was KD’s last game against Wade. pic.twitter.com/rADkSVZ7cE
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) February 28, 2019