Miami The 12-point lead Miami held minutes earlier was whittled to a single point, and Antonio McDyess rose for a dunk that would have given the Detroit Pistons the lead and all the momentum.
Dwyane Wade chose that moment to take over.
"Guys look at me and say, 'It's your time,"' Wade said. "That's all you need."
He blocked McDyess' dunk try, then had a three-point play eight seconds later to end a huge Detroit run. The Heat went on to beat the Pistons 98-83 on Saturday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.
"Play of the game," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said.
Heck, it might have been the biggest play of Miami's season.
Wade scored 35 points, O'Neal added 27 points and 12 rebounds, and they combined to shoot 24-for-32 from the floor for the Heat, who find themselves in the same situation they were in a year ago - up 2-1 over the Pistons in the East finals, two wins from the franchise's first trip to the NBA Finals.
"We took it upon ourselves, once again, to be the leaders of the team and help this team get a win," Wade said.
The Pistons thwarted those plans last year, rallying to win in seven games. If they have visions on doing that again, they'll have to find a way to slow Wade and Shaquille O'Neal - because Miami's superstar duo scored nearly at will in Game 3.
"That's why they're here," Heat coach Pat Riley said.
Chauncey Billups scored 11 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter for Detroit. Richard Hamilton added 20 points before fouling out and Rasheed Wallace had 11, but Tayshaun Prince - who averaged 20 points in the first two games of the series - had only three.
The Pistons shot only 42 percent from the floor, while Miami shot 58 percent. Plus, the Heat held huge edges in rebounding (40-27) and points in the paint (50-16).
"What it's come down every game is whoever is most aggressive from start to finish has come away with a victory," Billups said. "That's one thing that we've got to keep in mind."
Of the last 32 series that were tied at a game apiece, Game 3 winners have prevailed 24 times.
But Detroit has recovered from 2-1 deficits three times since 2003 - including last year, a result that neither the Heat nor the Pistons have forgotten. Game 4 is Monday night in Miami, before the series returns to suburban Detroit on Wednesday night.
"Any time you're in a series, the team that wins the last game has momentum," Saunders said. "We have to find a way to take that momentum back."
Miami was up 12 entering the fourth, and although that cushion all but vanished, the Heat survived.
"We're the first team in the playoffs to 10 wins," Riley said. "We need six more."