CHICAGO // Ice cold for three quarters of Thursday's Game Five, Dwyane Wade caught fire in the fourth and led Miami to an 83-80 win over Chicago that put the Heat in the NBA Finals.
Wade, hampered by a shoulder injury, turned the ball over nine times and had shot just 2-for-8 from the floor before the fourth quarter. Not the sort of performance he wanted to put on in front of his hometown friends and family in Chicago.
Chicago looked set to send the Eastern Conference finals to a Game Six but Wade suddenly found a spark, leading the Heat on an 18-3 run to the buzzer that stunned the Bulls.
The MVP of Miami's run to the title in 2006 did not want to blame the injury for his struggles but teammate LeBron James knew something was wrong.
"Absolutely," said James, who also found his range in the late rally after missing nine shots in a row. "I could see it on his face, but I said 'Just get through it. We need you'.
"He's one of the best players in this league. Guys like that are gonna find their way through it and he did that late for us."
Wade began finding the range on his jump shot. After hitting two, he flashed past a defender and drove to the hoop for more points. Then came a critical four-point play when he sank a three-pointer and converted a free throw for being fouled in the process.
Wade finished with 21 points and said he drew strength from the confidence shown in him by James.
"I'm a person who believes other people give you confidence," Wade told reporters. "When LeBron threw me back the ball after me struggling so much, I thought, 'Well, I've got to make something happen.'"
Erik Spoelstra, the Miami coach, said Wade was simply special.
"He's got something different, a different make-up inside of him," the coach said. "He's able to rise to the occasion.
"He may have struggled for a game, or parts of a game, but when it's winning time, there's really not many players that are better than him in the last two minutes."