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Wade Shakes Off Elbow to Face, Leads Heat

May 13, 2006

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) _ Dwyane Wade was face-first on the court, pain shooting through his body, his teammates staring in horror.

They’d already survived this scenario once this postseason, against Chicago in Game 5 of the first round. Wade returned that night, fighting the ache of a bruised hip, and sparked his team to a comeback win.

He did it again in New Jersey on Friday night _ allowing the Miami Heat to reclaim control of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Shaking off the effects of a Vince Carter elbow to the chin that sent him briefly to the locker room shortly after halftime with a bloodied mouth, Wade scored 15 of his 30 points in the final period and rallied the Heat to a 103-92 win over the Nets in Game 3.

``I knew he’d be back,″ Heat forward Udonis Haslem said. ``He’s been banged up all year, here or there. Head. Mouth. Hip. Back. Knee. Feet. Everything, and nothing has stopped him. I knew he’d be back. I wasn’t worried.″

Wade added 10 assists for the Heat, who’ll look to take a 3-1 lead in the series when it resumes Sunday at the Meadowlands.

Miami trailed 81-80 after Carter made an acrobatic layup with 4:32 remaining, and 20,102 fans in the Nets’ home building were raucous.

Wade, though, was unbothered. He drove down the lane on Miami’s next possession _ and, after getting drilled by Carter again, scored and converted a three-point play for an 83-81 edge with 4:22 left.

Miami never trailed again. Wade made four more free throws in a 25-second span shortly afterward, capping a 9-0 burst, and then hit Shaquille O’Neal with an alley-oop lob for a dunk with about 2:20 remaining that brought the Heat bench to their feet _ as if that was the moment that they knew they would survive.

``It’s sore, but you know, I’m all right,″ Wade said.

Just like in Game 1, when the Nets stormed to a huge early lead and took control of the series with a 12-point win, it appeared for a while Friday that five bad minutes would doom the Heat.

Wade was elbowed by Carter while defending the Nets guard on a drive about three minutes into the second half. He immediately slid to the ground, his left hand cupped over his nose and mouth _ he bit his jaw so hard he drew blood _ and remained on the floor for a couple minutes before leaving with a towel over his face.

``He’s a tough kid,″ O’Neal said. ``I think he got an inadvertent elbow in the face, messed up his pretty red lips a little bit.″

Sure, they could laugh about it afterward.

No one on the Miami side was laughing when it happened, though.

Play was stopped with 8:13 left in the third, after New Jersey’s Nenad Krstic scored to give the Nets a 57-56. When Wade finally returned after his quick trip to the locker room, it was 64-56 _ New Jersey grasping control with a 15-0 run.

Wade knew he was coming back. And when he did, so did the Heat _ just like in Game 5 against Chicago, when Miami trailed 55-50 _ the Heat began their rally.

Miami pulled into a 72-all tie entering the fourth, after Wade set up three baskets in the final 3:18 of that period _ 3-pointers by James Posey and Gary Payton, then a layup by Payton to cap the burst and set the tone for a frantic fourth quarter.

``He’s our guy,″ Posey said. ``He does so much for us as far as creating for other players. When he came back, he was going to lead the way.″

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