Miami guard shakes off injury to hurt Mavs from the perimeter
Wade Heats Up
By Brad Friedman
MIAMI, June 15 -- Dwyane Wade may be scared of needles but he certainly doesn't appear afraid of the NBA's biggest stage.
Less than 48 hours after scoring 42 points and spurring a 13-point comeback win in Game 3, Wade tallied a game-high 36 points in Miami's 98-74 win in Game 4 of The Finals. He showed no ill-effects of the left knee injury he suffered in Game 3, which occured when Shaquille O'Neal fell backwards into Wade.
"We haven't found the right solution to deal with Wade yet, offensively or defensively," Mavericks coach Avery Johnson said.
Wade indicated Wednesday he was confident his regular therapy and massages was all he needed to feel better by Game 4.
"I'm scared of needles," Wade said.
He set the tone early in the first quarter by scoring 14 of Miami's initial 19 points. When Shaquille O'Neal picked up his second foul at the 7:36 mark, Wade "held the fort down scoring-wise for us," according to teammate Udonis Haslem.
Added Heat coach Pat Riley: "You know, once Shaquille went out, we were going to put him in a situation with pick and rolls where he can make plays and keep the ball in his hands. It isn't any one thing that I call, but there's a series of things that we run when he's dribbling down the left side of the court that either you get into a high pick and roll or side pick and roll. But he pretty much controls that situation."
Wade appeared sharp from all over the floor throughout the contest. He knocked down two three-pointers -- something he only did in a game twice during the regular season -- and seven of his 14 shots from 15 feet and beyond. At the start of the series, Mavericks swingman Josh Howard, the primary defender assigned to Wade, indicated that he'd rather give Wade the jump shot than the drive.
"I think they said I can't shoot," Wade said when asked about his open looks in Game 4. "So why would they contest my shots? I can't shoot. So, hopefully, you know, I'm going to continue to keep shooting the shots they're giving me and step up and make them. That's all I can do."
"His skills will get more honed," Riley said. "But he can make the perimeter shot. I think most teams are always saying, 'we'll live with that,' but he's also beaten some teams with it, too. So he'll take the challenge."
Wade certainly lived up to the challenge in Game 4 and made the Mavericks pay. He's managed to step up in every game of the Finals in a series that has Dirk Nowitzki shooting .359 from the field and Shaquille O'Neal averaging 13.8 points per game. Currently, he's playing better basketball than anyone on the planet. This despite Wade constantly being nicked up or plain old sick during the series' four games.
"He takes a ding, he gets hurt, he shakes it off," Riley said. "He comes back and plays. He recovers very quickly."
Wade's now carried his team back from an 0-2 deficit to even the series after many had already called it for the Mavs. In the never-ending debate about who's the most-deserving of the No. 1 overall pick if the 2003 Draft was re-conducted -- Wade or LeBron James -- the argument for Wade just became stronger.
"Obviously I'm biased because Dwyane's my teammate," Haslem said, "but right now there's no one I'd rather play with than Dwyane Wade."
Following the contest, O'Neal was asked about Jerry Stackhouse's flagrant foul as O'Neal went up for a dunk attempt in the third quarter.
"My impression was my daughter's tackle me harder when I come home," O'Neal said. "You know, I'm one of the last players of the old school, and you know, you just have to take a hard foul like that and keep on moving."
"It actually felt pretty good to get hit like that. Thank you, Jerry. Appreciate it."
Nothing Falling for the Mavs
Miami's perimeter defense appeared strong Thursday night. They held the Mavericks to .316 shooting overall and 3-of-22 shooting from three-point range. Dallas posted a Finals record-low seven points in a quarter over the fourth period.
"They rely on Dirk on getting them going and getting them off," Heat center Alonzo Mourning said. "They rely on that and they rely on Josh Howard, getting him going and getting him off. A lot of our focus is trying to take them out of that rhythm. Jason Terry coming off those screens – you got to disrupt that. The only way to disrupt it is with effort, energy and defensive communication out there and I think we did a pretty good job."
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