Whatever answer he sought, he didn’t find for much of Game 4. Wade made just 5 of 16 shots from the field, lacking his usual lift at the rim. He made a pair of free throws with 1:50 left in the first half for his seventh and eighth points, and didn’t score again until overtime.
Better late than never.
That was just the start for the Heat.
“Hey, they’re a great team,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “They compete. They play hard. They play great defense … and they made plays at the end.”
Chicago turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, Wade turned the second of those into a layup with 1:01 left for a 95-89 lead, and the Heat soon knew they were one win away from the title round.
Mike Miller scored 12 for Miami.
“I’m going to learn from it,” said Rose, who tried to take personal blame for the loss.
The fourth quarter was pure theater, both teams clearly knowing — clearly relishing — the stakes.
Miami scored the first seven points for a 70-69 lead. Chicago took the lead back on a pair of free throws by Rose with 6:34 left, and Miami answered with a four-point possession — two free throws by Bosh after a flagrant foul against Boozer, followed by Miller making a jumper over Rose for a 78-77 edge.
Back and forth from there, with the lead, the momentum, control of the series, all seeming to turn every time the ball crossed midcourt.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Miller said. “I’ve been waiting for a game like this.”
Rose had a chance with 28 seconds left, his jumper from the left side hitting the rim and eventually being corralled by Miller. The Heat called time with 23 seconds left, 18 seconds on the shot clock, everyone in the building probably thinking the play would be set up for James.
It was. And it never got a chance for liftoff.
Referee Bennett Salvatore called James for an offensive foul with 8 seconds left, saying Ronnie Brewer beat him to the spot as the two-time MVP tried to back down the right side of the lane.
So instead of winning the game late in regulation, James had to send it to overtime with defense. He guarded Rose on the final possession, forcing the Chicago guard into a taking a jumper that fell way short, and off to an extra 5 minutes they went.