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Wade will opt to become a free agent after the season, and on the slim chance that this was his final home game in Miami, it was nothing short of scintillating.
"He just put it all on his shoulders," Pierce said. "And did a good job of it."
Trailing by six entering the final quarter and needing a rally to keep the season alive, Miami opened the fourth on a 25-8 run, fueled mostly by Wade. He hit a pair of 3-pointers about a minute apart, stopping after the second one to scream at his right hand, giving Miami an 85-80 lead.
"When his back is against the wall," Spoelstra said, "it's an utter defiance."
Miami played that way pretty much all day.
Garnett scored the opening basket, only to have Miami reel off the next 12 points. Richardson made his first four shots, three of them from 3-point range, staking Miami to a 15-5 lead.
Wade scored 14 in the first, Richardson ended up with 13, and the Heat seemed well on their way, up 31-14 late in the opening quarter.
That duo combined for two in the second quarter, though, and Boston began chipping away.
Thanks in large part to Glen Davis tripping over his own feet and tumbling to the court in a green heap, Beasley had an alley-oop dunk with 8 minutes left until halftime, putting Miami up 42-24.
The rest of the half was all Boston, which quickly turned the arena mood from celebratory to concerned. The Celtics outscored Miami 19-7 to close the second quarter, with the Heat making six turnovers and missing eight of their next nine shots after the Beasley dunk, and the lead was down to only 49-43 at the break.
"They played how they were supposed to play," Allen said.
In the third, Wade did the spectacular. Boston did the steady, which worked better.
Wade drove past Allen down the middle of the lane, dunked over the outstretched arm of Garnett and walked into the second row of seats, tying the game at 64 as the crowd roared.
But Garnett, Pierce, Allen and Rondo all had big baskets late in the third, and the Celtics took a 77-71 edge into the final 12 minutes.
But the fourth, thanks to Wade, was all Miami.
"I'm a rhythm player," Wade said. "And once I get in that rhythm, I think I can make any shot."
Each Heat player had a sheet of paper at his locker when he arrived Sunday, the words "Easy vs. Hard" typed across the top.
"Making everyone go to Boston," the sheet said, "is hard."
And it was.
Getting the Celtics to fly back to Miami will be even tougher.
NOTES: Richardson left the game in the second half with what the Heat called a bruised left hand. He wore a splint after the game on his left ring finger, but said he'll absolutely play in Game 5. ... Celeb watch: Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano sat next to Heat president Pat Riley (remember, Riles was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1967). Singer Gloria Estefan and rapper Common were also in the crowd. ... Rondo and Carlos Arroyo were assessed technicals for jawing at each other early in the third quarter.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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