Kenai Peninsula Online - Alaska Newspaper -

Posted: Thursday, May 26, 2005

MIAMI After returning home from a late-night joyride with teammates Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning, the phone rang inside Dwyane Wade's home as the dawn of a new day was drawing near.

The voice on the line belonged to O'Neal, who wanted to drop one last line of reassurance into the head of his teammate who had struggled so badly in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. No matter that it was already past 3 a.m.

''I was up, and if I was up I wanted him to be up,'' O'Neal said.

The message was the last thing Wade heard before going to sleep, and it certainly sunk in. Miami's up-and-coming superstar rediscovered his aggressiveness and took over in the fourth quarter Wednesday night, scoring 20 of his 40 points over the final 12 minutes as the Heat defeated the Detroit Pistons 92-86 to even the best-of-seven series 1-1.

This was the type of dominant offensive effort the Heat had grown accustomed to receiving from the 23-year-old during their consecutive sweeps of New Jersey and Washington in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Wade was able to summon another burst of brilliance to avoid having his team head to Detroit down 2-0.

''I wanted my voice to be the last he heard. I wanted to give him some inspiration,'' said O'Neal, who disregarded the danger of possibly waking Wade's wife and son. ''He took a lot of heat for having a bad first game. I just told him to take your time, let the game come to you and I'm here with you no matter what.''

Wade scored 14 of Miami's first 16 points in the final quarter, then raced in from behind and came up with a crucial block of Chauncey Billups' 3-point attempt to help the Heat hold off the defending NBA champions.

''I watched a lot of film, listened to a lot of people and used everything my college coach and NBA coach told me, too,'' said Wade, who shot 7-for-25 in Game 1. ''They told me to come back with a good game. I was rushing some shots. I wasn't being patient. Tonight, I came out patient.''

The series resumes Sunday night, each team having asserted itself once.

Wade eclipsed 30 points for the sixth time this postseason and reached 40 points for the second time, while O'Neal added 17 points and 10 rebounds and Damon Jones had 14 points.

Richard Hamilton scored 21 points and Tayshaun Prince had 17 for the Pistons, who came back from a 14-point deficit but were helpless to stop Wade when he decided it was time to take over.

''I know I'm human and am going to have some bad games, but it's all about how you come back the next day,'' Wade said. ''(Miami president Pat) Riley told me even the great ones, even (Michael) Jordan, have bad games. Don't put it all on yourself.''

Wade's fourth-quarter outburst started with a bank shot and a driving dunk before O'Neal hit a jump hook. Wade scored Miami's next 10 points on a tip-in, two 14-footers, a drive into the lane and an alley-oop dunk, the last of which put the Heat ahead 78-76 with 5:12 left.

Detroit tied it once more before O'Neal converted a three-point play with 3:59 remaining to make it 81-78 and put the Heat ahead for good.

After Mourning blocked a shot by Ben Wallace, Wade converted a fast-break layup for a five-point lead and Mourning added two free throws with 3:18 left to make it 85-78. A basket by Billups and a miss by Wade gave Detroit a chance to pull within two, but Wade came up behind Billups and swatted away his 3-point attempt a play that led to a fast-break layup by Jones that made it 87-80.

The Pistons scored the next four points and had a chance to tie, but Rasheed Wallace missed a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left one of 14 misses from behind the arc for the Pistons on a night when they fell too much in love with the long shot.

Wade, who relied too much on his jump shot in Game 1, made 14 of his 15 field goals from 14 feet or nearer. He also went 10-for-10 from the foul line and closed the game with a breakaway dunk to reach 40 points with 1 second left.

''Dwyane, for two years, has been a guy that when you find an answer to him, he'll go back and take a look and made adjustments,'' Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. ''It's one of the reasons that he's as good as he is, and one of the reasons this organization has the respect for him that we do.''

Detroit made its comeback from a 14-point deficit by hitting five 3-pointers in the third quarter, and the Pistons eventually made seven straight 3s while enduring a stretch of nearly 12 minutes without a 2-pointer.

Wade was more aggressive going to the basket right from the start, and he ended the first quarter with eight points, four assists and two rebounds to help Miami to a 24-23 lead. Damon Jones went 3-for-3 from the field in the second quarter, including 2-for-2 on 3-pointers, and Eddie Jones also hit a 3 as Miami outscored the Pistons 23-13 in the period for a 46-37 halftime lead.

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