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(Tuesday, December 18th)
Final Score: Miami 103, Minnesota 92
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Dwyane Wade scored 24 points and the Miami Heat pulled away in the second half to record a 103-92 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves at American Airlines Arena.
LeBron James amassed 22 points and 11 assists for Miami, which began the fourth quarter with a 17-6 run to break open a relatively close contest en route to its fourth win in five games. Chris Bosh tallied 15 points to help the reigning world champions prevail.
The Heat came out on top despite being outrebounded by a 52-24 margin and outscored in the paint by a 58-36 differential. However, Miami shot a sizzling 52 percent (13-of-25) from 3-point range on the night, with Mario Chalmers hitting 4-of-6 long-range attempts in a 12-point effort and Shane Battier going 3-for-7 from beyond the arc.
"It is not a way we would want to test every single night," said Battier. "But if you play hard in other areas of the game, force turnovers and are efficient on the offensive end, you can mitigate that a little bit."
Andrei Kirilenko had 22 points to pace Minnesota and Nikola Pekovic racked up 18 points and 12 rebounds in the loss, the Timberwolves' second straight following a season-best four-game win streak.
Kevin Love grabbed 18 boards for Minnesota, but went just 2-of-10 from the field while ending with 11 points.
The Heat trailed 63-62 after Pekovic threw down a dunk off an Alexey Shved feed with 7:24 remaining in the third quarter, but ripped off nine consecutive points over the next two minutes to move in front. James capped the run with a jumper from beyond the arc, and knocked down another triple later in the period to extend Miami's lead to 78-68 with 2:31 left in the frame.
Miami carried an 80-72 lead into the fourth quarter, then proceeded to dominate the first five minutes of the session to put the T-Wolves in a hole they could not overcome.
The Heat were lethal from long distance during the pivotal 17-6 sequence, knocking down four 3-pointers over that span. Three of them came from Battier, with the final one finishing off the spurt and putting Miami up 97-78 with 7 1/2 minutes to go.
Miami toned down the intensity afterward, and Minnesota closed the gap somewhat with a 10-1 tear in which Derrick Williams registered five points to move within 100-92 with under two minutes left.
"We kept battling those guys at the end," said Timberwolves head coach Rick Adelman. "We came in and cut it down to eight. That's what you want to see."
The Heat's Norris Cole would seal the victory, however, by coming up with a steal and converting a 3-point play with 1:08 to play.
Minnesota utilized its prowess in the post to its benefit early on, outscoring the Heat by a 20-10 count in the paint during the first quarter and finishing the session with an overwhelming 18-3 rebounding advantage to build a 27-21 edge. Love pulled down nine boards over the initial 12 minutes, with Kirilenko leading all scorers with 11 points.
The Timberwolves continued to have success inside in the second quarter, and their lead grew to nine points after Kirilenko's layup just past the midway point of the stanza made the score 41-32.
Miami countered with a 9-1 spurt, getting five points from Cole, to cut the deficit to one, and went into the break up 52-49 after Chalmers drained a 3- pointer just prior to the buzzer.
Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio, who made his return from a torn ACL on Saturday, was held out of the contest with the team having played on consecutive nights ... Miami has now hit the 100-point mark in 12 of its 14 home outings this season, while the Timberwolves have yielded 100 or more in five straight games ... Wade finished 8-of-14 from the field and is shooting 65.5 percent (38-of-58) over his last five contests ... Minnesota fell to 2-5 this season in the second of back-to-back games ... The Heat ended with a 30-26 edge in bench points, improving to 9-0 on the season when its reserves outscore the opponent's.
12/18 23:09:53 ET