Heat put Wizards in a bind

Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2005

MIAMI — The sellout crowd in Miami serenaded Shaquille O'Neal with another ''M-V-P'' chant.

Perhaps it should have been directed to Shaq's superstar teammate.

Dwyane Wade scored 31 points, including a critical three-point play with 1:05 left, and added a career-high 15 assists Tuesday night, helping Miami stay perfect in these playoffs with a 108-102 win over the Washington Wizards.

''It's kind of like pick your poison,'' Wade said. ''You can either let me shoot or you can give somebody a layup. And tonight they came up on me, so some other guys got layups.''

Miami leads the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-0. Thursday's Game 3 is at Washington, where the Heat have won 11 times in 14 tries.

Eddie Jones added 21 points, O'Neal scored 16, Damon Jones had 14 and Udonis Haslem had a 14-point, 13-rebound effort for Miami — which won despite 20 turnovers, an 18-7 deficit in offensive rebounds and a 22-for-40 showing at the foul line.

''We didn't take care of anything that we wanted to take care of,'' Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. ''And we won the game.''

Antawn Jamison, playing with tendinitis in his right knee, had a playoff career-high 32 points for Washington. Gilbert Arenas added 28 for the Wizards, but the third member of their high-scoring trio, Larry Hughes, missed his first 11 shots and finished with 15 points on 5-for-17 shooting.

''You need to take it to another level and find a way to get it done,'' Jamison said.

Washington fell into an 0-2 hole in the first round against Chicago, and became the ninth team in NBA history to recover from such a deficit. That's why the mood in the Wizards' locker room was upbeat.

''You've got to get smacked in the face before you toughen up,'' Arenas said. ''They're beating us down right now. But we're not afraid. We're going to keep fighting.''

O'Neal had seven rebounds to go with his 6-for-11 performance, and continued his silence; he did not take questions for the third consecutive day.

Wade made 10 of 15 shots and grabbed seven rebounds. In the first three quarters, Miami had 29 baskets, 22 either made by Wade or set up by his passes.

And the Heat needed Wade to be especially sharp because the Wizards simply wouldn't go away.

''He is a tornado out there,'' Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. ''He is a major force.''

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wade became the fifth player in NBA history with at least 30 points, 15 assists and five rebounds in a playoff game. The others? Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Walt Frazier and Oscar Robertson.

Jamison hit a floater from 12 feet with 1:24 left to bring Washington within five, but Wade answered with a three-point play 19 seconds later. He drove past Arenas, darted left, drew contact from Jamison, changed hands with the ball and scored.

The free throw gave Miami a 105-97 lead — and the Heat escaped.

''We have ourselves a chance,'' Jordan said. ''And I would think that if we play that hard, maybe a little bit better, then we'll have a chance in our place the next two games.''

Not including a buzzer-beating try to end the first quarter from halfcourt that barely missed, bouncing just off the front of the rim, Wade made his first six shots.

His first conventional miss came with 1:08 left in the half, but he atoned for it seconds later, stripping Juan Dixon of the ball and driving for a dunk that put Miami, 6-0 this postseason, ahead 54-45.

Even more impressive than his shooting, though, was the way Wade set up teammates. He had assists on five of Miami's first six baskets, had six setups in the first quarter and nine by halftime — two more than the entire Wizards roster had combined, and matching Washington's total output in Game 1.

''We didn't play well. We're fortunate to get this win,'' Haslem said. ''We're definitely going to have to correct things at their house if we're going to get wins. It's going to be a fight. We know that.''

Spurs 108, SuperSonics 91

SAN ANTONIO — Manu Ginobili is certainly good enough to start for the San Antonio Spurs. It's just that when he comes off the bench, he makes his club better.

Using his usual array of layups and long jumpers, the suave Argentine pepped up the San Antonio offense as soon as he stepped on the court Tuesday night. Ginobili ended up making 9 of 11 shots and scoring 28 points, leading the Spurs to a 108-91 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics on Tuesday night for a 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

''I don't really know what he does,'' said San Antonio center Tim Duncan, who was his usual steady self with 25 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. ''He just kind of puts his head down and goes and we pray for the best.''

Ginobili's head was up when Duncan spoke. He laughed and shouted, ''That's so unfair.''

The Spurs should be enjoying themselves since they've won six straight this postseason, with the victories coming by an average of 16 points. Their roll began after following a stunning home loss to Denver in the playoff opener and coach Gregg Popovich making one major change — starting Brent Barry and using Ginobili as a super sub.

''It was a pretty good move,'' said Seattle coach Nate McMillan. ''Manu is capable of creating his own offense and when Tim is sitting it gives (Ginobili) an opportunity to play with the ball. He provides scoring with that second unit and you get more balance with him coming off the bench.''

Seattle's Ray Allen shook off a sprained ankle that knocked him out of the opener and scored 25 points in 42 minutes. Rashard Lewis scored 22. The Sonics even had a stretch of 22 points scored by that duo.

Problem was, Allen missed five of his first seven shots and Lewis started 0-for-6. Lewis later made five straight and Allen scored 12 points in the third quarter, but by then it was too late. Any chance of a fourth-quarter rally was doused by Allen taking just two shots, both 3-pointers, with neither going in.

''There were just a lot of breaks in this game and it seemed like none of them went our way,'' said Allen, who was booed throughout because of his off-day cries about San Antonio defensive whiz Bruce Bowen being a dirty player.

''By no means is this team coming apart. We've been one unit all year long and that is why we are here. This team has always handled losing well and has always responded. We just have to go home now and give our fans a show.''

Considering how the Spurs have dominated the Sonics in every aspect, leading for all but 62 seconds, perhaps Seattle's best hope is that overconfidence gets the best of San Antonio.

That's not likely.

The Spurs certainly remember what happened this time last year, when they led Los Angeles 2-0 after winning the first two games of the second round at home. The series moved to the Pacific Coast and San Antonio didn't win again. In case anyone forgot, Popovich will surely mention it before they fly to Seattle for Games 3 and 4, starting Thursday night.

''We have to stay humble,'' Ginobili said. ''We've got a lot of room to improve. We really want to do it. We want to become, as soon as possible, the best team that we can be.''

Apparently, that begins with Ginobili on the bench.

Duncan made three of San Antonio's first four shots, but things were sluggish until Ginobili came in. He made two 3-pointers and a layup, then set up Parker for another, and San Antonio went up 20-8. The lead grew to 42-24 with 5:19 left in first half.

Seattle got within eight before halftime, but the Spurs were back up by 12 at the break. The Sonics cut the lead to 72-63 late in the third quarter, then a free throw by Ginobili, a pair by Parker, a layup by Robert Horry off a nice pass from Ginobili and two more foul shots by Parker stretched the lead back to 14.

San Antonio kept a double-digit cushion the rest of the way, with center Nazr Mohammed padding the final score with a 3-pointer just before the buzzer.

Ginobili's aggressiveness sometimes gets the best of him, as evidenced by his five turnovers. But his jumpers, drives and passing (four assists) kept the offense going as the Sonics did a better job clamping down on Parker after he scored 29 points in the opener.

Ginobili also contributed on defense, blocking Allen twice on one possession, even though scorers only credited him with one swat.

Guarding Allen wasn't easy. Bowen was called for five fouls in 17 minutes. Brent Barry also had a ticky-tack foul called on him while guarding Allen.

''I tried to adjust to it, show them my hands, but it just didn't work,'' Bowen said. ''It's all about overcoming all obstacles so that you can stay focused on that common goal of winning.''

Antonio Daniels scored 16 for the Sonics, while the frontcourt continued to struggle. Jerome James scored eight points and Reggie Evans had just one, with 12 rebounds.

Notes: The Sonics are 0-4 in a seven-game series when going down 0-2. ... Allen was 10-of-10 on free throws, upping his postseason free-throw streak to 43. ... Both coaches received votes for coach of the year. Seattle's Nate McMillan was third and San Antonio's Gregg Popovich was eighth, getting one second-place vote.



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