"I know it's been a tough year," Wade said, as he thanked fans for helping vote him onto the Eastern Conference All-Star team. "But it won't last forever."
It only seems that way.
J.R. Smith made a career-best eight 3-pointers and scored 28 points, Kenyon Martin added 24, and the Denver Nuggets edged the Miami Heat 114-113 in overtime Tuesday night -- sending the 2006 NBA champions to their 23rd loss in 24 games.
Carmelo Anthony scored six of his 22 points in overtime for Denver.
"We finished the game out," Anthony said. "That's what matters."
Wade had game-highs of 29 points and 10 assists, but missed a 22-footer at the buzzer for the Heat, who led by 14 in the first half before seeing it slip away.
"It would have been fun," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "But it didn't go in."
Wade dove over the first row of seats in a futile effort to grab a loose ball late in overtime, but he came up just short -- a harbinger of what awaited Miami.
On that possession, Anthony Carter made two free throws, putting the Nuggets up by two with 1:26 left. Anthony added two more free throws with 54.1 seconds to play, before Ricky Davis' 3-pointer with 33.6 seconds left got Miami within a point.
Anthony missed with about 10 seconds remaining, Miami controlled the rebound and Wade dribbled up the left side of the floor to one of his favorite spots -- with Riley not electing to call timeout.
But the shot rimmed out, and Miami left disappointed once again.
"I got the best shot I could," Wade said.
Shawn Marion scored 23 points and added a Heat season-best 18 rebounds in his second game since joining Miami in the trade that sent Shaquille O'Neal to Phoenix. Dorell Wright scored 19 points and Mark Blount finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Neither team led by more than four points at any time in the last 16:18 of the game.
Smith scored a career-high 37 points against the Heat on Dec. 8, 2006, and did similar damage to Miami on Tuesday.
He sparked a big Denver run from a 14-point deficit in the first half, and in the fourth quarter, he simply torched Miami with four 3-pointers in the first 5:07 of the final period -- answering Miami baskets with three of those long jumpers.
"When he is that energized it is something we can ride," Nuggets coach George Karl said. "We did tonight."
But despite Smith's best efforts, the game remained close throughout the fourth, with neither team ever leading by more than four. Iverson's jumper with 1:41 remaining in regulation gave the Nuggets a 102-98 edge, but Blount's jumper from the left baseline with 17.5 seconds left tied it.
Wright then blocked Iverson's potential game-winner with 0.4 seconds left, sending the game to overtime.
"It was real fun," Wright said. "We were out there fighting, not giving up."
Denver won this one with defense. Miami shot 61 percent before halftime, 36 percent after intermission.
"You can never doubt a Pat Riley team," Anthony said. "They keep coming at you and coming at you."
Wright, who didn't attempt a 3-pointer in 22 games between Dec. 15 and Feb. 7 -- was 2-for-2 from beyond the arc in the first quarter, helping stake Miami to a 32-23 lead.
When Marion took a nifty bounce pass in the lane from former Phoenix teammate Marcus Banks and dunked with 8:17 left in the half, the Heat led 42-28 -- their biggest edge in any game since leading Utah by 16 points on Dec. 22.
But of course, in this Miami season, prosperity didn't last.
Smith scored 13 points in a 4-minute span after Marion's dunk, and the Nuggets were within 63-57 at the half.
In the third, they caught up. A 15-2 period-ending run gave Denver an 84-78 lead entering the fourth, and after Smith's 3-pointer with 8:20 left in regulation, the Nuggets didn't trail again.
"He's a streak shooter," Wade said. "He got on a streak."
- Smith became the third player to hit eight 3-pointers against Miami.
- The first four field goals of the second quarter were dunks, two by each team.
- Marion now has the most rebounds by a Heat player this season -- and by a Heat opponent. He grabbed 24 when Phoenix visited Miami on Nov. 9.
- Kevin Willis, in 1994, was the only other Miami player to open his Heat career with back-to-back double-doubles.