MIAMI (AP) — Dwyane Wade's 3-pointer at the end of the first half was desperation.
The one in the final seconds of regulation, dramatic.
And the one that finally ended the game, unbelievable.
Miami's MVP candidate stole the ball from John Salmons with 3 seconds left, then made a running 3-pointer as time expired to lift the Heat to a wild 130-127 double-overtime win over the Chicago Bulls on Monday night.
"Mr. Dwyane Tyrone Wade Jr., if he's not legitimately considered for an MVP candidate, I don't know what he needs to do," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "We are currently a playoff contender and night after night, he's making incredible plays like this."
Wade — who finished with 48 points and 12 assists in nearly 50 minutes, shooting 15-for-21 from the field — made a 3-pointer at the end of the first half, then another with 11.5 seconds left in regulation.
And after missing a layup at the end of the first extra session, he more than atoned for that at the end.
"You never know until it goes in," Wade said. "But I was 99.9 percent sure that one was cash."
Referees reviewed the play for more than two minutes, before Mark Wunderlich shot his hands in the air, officially giving Miami the win.
"Credit the Bulls," said Wade, who got a congratulatory text from Cleveland star and fellow MVP hopeful LeBron James after the game. "This is one of those games for the ages."
Michael Beasley had 18 points, Mario Chalmers added 17 and Jamario Moon scored 13 for the Heat, who stayed within 1½ games of Atlanta for the No. 4 spot in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.
Ben Gordon scored a season-high 43 points for the Bulls, including eight 3-pointers. Salmons scored 29 and Derrick Rose added 23 for the Bulls, who are 0-3 against Miami this season and used only seven players Monday.
Rose played 55 minutes. Salmons played nearly 54. Gordon nearly played 50. And Chicago was right there, before Wade's dramatics ended a 3-hour, 17-minute epic.
"Basically, that's how the game was going to end — who had the ball last," Gordon said. "Whoever made the last best play was going to win the game and D-Wade made a spectacular play. He willed his team to win."
Wade had some help, too.
Midway through the second overtime, Beasley found Udonis Haslem for an easy two-hand slam to break a tie, then caught an alley-oop pass from Wade for a dunk and three-point play on the next possession by Miami, putting the Heat up 124-119 with 2:19 left.
Beasley hung on the rim for a second, letting out a scream of delight.
Wade walked slowly to the other end, bent over and gasped for air.
He certainly had a wild night. Wade made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from near midcourt at the end half, sent it to overtime with another 3, then missed a reverse layup with less than 1 second left in the first overtime.
"He comes in every day and says 'I'm tired, I don't feel like doing it right now,'" Beasley said. "If 40 points, 46, 47 points is tired, I'd like to see him fully energized."
They needed every bit of Wade's energy at the end.
The game was tied three times in the second overtime, the last coming when Salmons answered a basket by Wade with one of his own with 37.9 seconds left.
Chicago went to Salmons again on its final possession, and the former University of Miami standout drove into the lane against Haslem. Wade came from the back side, tapped the ball free, then swished the runner at the buzzer.
He ran to midcourt, jumped on the table where Heat owner Micky Arison was sitting, and shot both arms in the air.
"I made a move and he came out of nowhere," Salmons said. "He read it well and still made the shot, made a great play."
Dribbling downcourt, Wade said he was thinking about something Spoelstra said in the game's final stoppage, telling players they had one more timeout left.
"I was about to call it," Wade said. "And then I said, 'Nah.'"
Miami led 84-74 entering the fourth, after Wade scored 27 points in the middle two quarters to recharge the Heat.
Miami trailed 11-1 in the early minutes and was down by 13 later in the half, but went into intermission with a 54-52 lead — thanks to Wade hitting a 31-footer with less than 1 second left before the break.
Wade had 15 points in the third quarter, the Heat led 84-70 late in the period and settled for the 10-point edge entering the fourth. But Gordon — a career 21-point-per-game scorer against Miami — single-handedly got the Bulls back on top.
He scored 14 straight Chicago points in the final minutes of regulation, including hitting 3-pointers on four of five possessions in one stretch. Gordon then made one of two free throws with 20.7 seconds left, putting Chicago up 104-101.
That left Wade plenty of time. The reigning Eastern Conference player of the week almost made it look easy, making a 3-pointer over Salmons for the final basket of regulation.
It was the 78th straight game where Wade scored in double figures, matching his franchise record. He's also scored at least 20 points in 19 straight games, putting him one away from matching the Heat record in that department — which he also owns.
But that seemed irrelevant in the end.
"Right now, man," Moon said in the locker room, pointing to Wade's stall, "there ain't nobody in the league playing better than him."
Notes:@ It was Latin Night — "Noche Latina," part of the NBA's annual tribute to fans and players from Latin America and Hispanic cities — Miami wore black uniforms with "El Heat" across the chest. The Heat will wear the jerseys again Saturday at home against Utah. ... Bulls F Tyrus Thomas picked up a technical with 2:28 left in the third, throwing his gum at a nearby official after picking up his fourth foul.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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