MIAMI, January 26 – LeBron James outduelled Dwyane Wade down the stretch, hitting two key free throws with 4.1 seconds remaining to lift the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 92-91 win over Miami on Monday night.
Wade and James went toe-to-toe in an epic first-half shootout between the two National Basketball Association superstars.
Wade, who missed a jumper at the buzzer, finished with 32 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat.
James carried the Cavaliers on his back Monday executing a timely steal of a behind the back pass by Wade before sinking his late free throws. The steal was in many ways a snapshot of the game-long duel between James and Wade as James threw a blanket over Wade defensively in the second half.
"It came down to one possession," said James. "Whoever got the last stop was going to win the game. Luckily it was us."
Said Wade, "We put ourselves in the right position. Just mistakes tonight that I made that I normally don’t … cost us."
James finished with 32 points and nine rebounds for the Cavaliers, who won their fifth-straight game.
Giant centre Shaquille O’Neal ended with 19 points, Daniel Gibson had 15 and Anderson Varejao finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds for Cleveland.
Wade scored 30 points in the first half but cooled off in the second shooting one-of-eight from the field for just two points.
Jermaine O’Neal ended with 18 points and eight rebounds for Miami, which had a two-game winning streak snapped.
"Two really, really good friends, one of my best friends that I have, just two great competitors not wanting to lose to each other," James said.
"But at the same time, knowing that we’re putting on a show not only for each other, but for the fans and whoever was watching the game."
Udonis Haslem scored on a drive to the basket with 70 seconds left to give Miami a 91-90 lead.
James then missed a three-point attempt and Wade was fouled going for the rebound with 41.2 seconds left but he missed both free throws.
Moments later Wade attempted a behind-the-back pass, but James read the play perfectly and stole the ball. He dribbled down the court and missed a layup and was fouled by Wade and Quentin Richardson.
Both James and Wade hit the floor hard on the play with 4.1 seconds left.
After James made both free throws, Wade took an inbound pass and tried a long jumper that bounced off the rim.
"For him to get up after that collision and knock down two free throws the way that he did, he’s got ice water in his veins, baby," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "Ice water."
And in the ensuing huddle, Brown wanted to call a double-team on Wade. The coach was overruled.
"I got D-Wade," James said.