Throughout the first two games of the NBA, Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, both Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra and the 76ers' Doug Collins have talked about taking the other team's best punch. In the first half of last night's Game 3 of the best-of-seven series, the Sixers threw haymaker after haymaker at the vaunted Heat, landing many.
Spencer Hawes, silent for Games 1 and 2, was as active as he's been in weeks; Elton Brand returned to his place of work offensively, which is 10 to 15 feet from the basket, and nailed his open shots; and Lou Williams seemed fully recovered from the hamstring injury that has plagued him most of the month, providing instant offense off the bench.
Throughout, the Heat absorbed, absorbed, absorbed. And when they saw it was time, they conquered the moment, and ultimately, the Sixers, 100-94, to take a commanding, 3-0 lead with a chance to close it out on Sunday at 1 p.m.
So exhausted were the Sixers that a 75-73 lead after three quarters quickly evaporated as they missed eight of their first 10 shots to help Miami forge a 90-80 lead.
Dwyane Wade paced the Heat with 30 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, while LeBron James added 24, 15 and six. Chris Bosh (19) and Zydrunus Ilgauskas (10) also scored in double figures for Miami, which has beaten the Sixers in all six of their meetings this season.
Brand posted 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Jrue Holiday collected 20 points and eight assists. Williams scored 15 and Hawes added 12. Andre Iguodala had 10 points and 10 assists
Six shots: Dwyane Wade appeared to take an elbow to his upper left arm midway through the second quarter. He didn't miss any time, but was wearing a heavy wrap on it whenever he was on the bench the rest of the night . . . LeBron James went down on the floor on his way to the Miami bench with 58.9 seconds left in the game, apparently struggling with leg cramps.