INDIANAPOLIS — Danny Granger said all the right things before the game and all the wrong things during it.
“Dwyane Wade did not really play well,” Granger said respectfully of Wade’s 5-point effort Saturday in Game 3. “Guarantee he won’t play like that again. I actually watched film of other times we played him, where he had 30 points, 36 points, you know, whatever. He is very capable, he just had an off night. We know he won’t play that bad.”
Sure enough, Wade didn’t.
The much-maligned superstar had 30 points — 22 in the decisive second half — nine rebounds and six assists to support a monster game by LeBron James as the Miami Heat regained home court advantage with a 101-93 victory over Indiana on Sunday.
Wade rebounded from the worst playoff performance of his career, shaking off a 1-for-8 shooting start to finish 13-for-23, including a huge second half that followed an altercation with Granger right before the break.
James hit for 40 points on 14-for-27 shooting, grabbed 18 rebounds and dished out nine assists.
“I’ve been doubted before. I’ll be doubted again,” Wade said.
“We had a terrible performance in Game 3,” James said. “We wanted to redeem ourselves.”
Playing without Chris Bosh since halftime of Game 1, the Heat have struggled to find a third scoring option to supplement James and Wade. Udonis Haslem, who was Wade’s teammate on the 2006 championship team, finally came through, scoring 14 points.
The Heat shot well from the floor all game (48 percent), including a 5-for-12 effort from three-point range after shooting an abysmal 5-for-42 in the first three games combined.
Miami held the Pacers to 42 percent shooting and won the battle on the glass, 47-38.
“Just survival,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “This is what the playoffs are about.”
Granger led the Pacers with 20 points, while Darren Collison came off the bench to score 16, including 10 in the second quarter. Paul George chipped in 13 and Roy Hibbert finished with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Indiana, as it has done every game this series, jumped out to an early nine-point advantage, this time racing out of the gates with a 9-0 spurt. They would eventually hold a 54-46 lead at halftime.
But James and Wade took over in the pivotal third quarter, where Indiana had made their move in the previous two games and led by 10 in this one. Miami dominated Indiana, outscoring the Pacers 30-16, with James and Wade accounting for all but two of the points.
“Beautiful basketball,” Wade said.
The closest the Pacers would come after Miami’s run would be five at 96-91 on a three-pointer by Granger with 1:33 left in the fourth.
“You get the ball out of one of those guy’s hands and it gets to the other guy’s,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said of trying to defend the All-Star tandem. “It’s not like one superhero and a bunch of role guys.”
Wade’s part in the explosion seemed to be fueled by yet more controversy, this after days of scrutiny into his comments about the Pacers’ Game 2 “celebration” and his verbal altercation with his head coach during a timeout in Game 3.
At the end of the second quarter with 12.6 seconds remaining, Wade was fouled hard by Hibbert. After the whistle, a frustrated Wade slapped off Hibbert’s arm after the two got tangled. Granger didn’t like that and he confronted Wade.
Wade showed restraint, turning to the official and asking him to “get him out of my face.”
Granger was slapped with a technical foul for the second straight game, and as Wade lined up to shoot his free throw, the Indiana forward kept jawing at him, unlike his respectful pregame comments about the struggling star.
Wade showed no restraint with his game in the second half, and the Heat ran away with it.
“In the third quarter, it was just too much,” Granger said after the game.
It was the smartest thing Granger said all day, definitely smarter than the talking he did before halftime, but now a three-game series with two in Miami might be too much for the Pacers as well.
Jeff LeJeune writes on a broad spectrum of topics, from spirituality to sports to synchronicity and synergy, while finally learning to smile a little more at it all. Visit JeffLeJeune.com and follow on Twitter @JeffLeJeune.