MIAMI, May 25 (Ticker) --
The defending champions were charging,
was hobbling and American Airlines Arena was
panicking when Dwyane Wade
got it going.
Wade scored 20 of his 40 points in a highlight-reel fourth
quarter and rescued the Miami Heat, who held on for a 92-86
victory over the Detroit Pistons that evened the Eastern
Conference finals at one game apiece.
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The top-seeded Heat squandered a 14-point lead and could have
been headed to Detroit in a virtually insurmountable 2-0 hole
before riding the remarkable Wade, whose slump lasted all of one
O'Neal is limited by a bruised thigh, which has the Heat relying
heavily on Wade. He was averaging nearly 29 points per game
through the first two playoff series but was held to 16 points
on 7-of-25 shooting in a 90-81 loss in Game One.
"You can't be great, great, great every night," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy
said. "He heard all of you talking and writing the
other night about how they had the answer to him and everything
else. I'm always confident that he can adjust."
"I know I'm human and I'll have some bad games, but it's all
about how you come back the next game," Wade said.
With Miami's realistic hopes for an NBA title on the line, Wade
had perhaps the best performance of his brief career. The
second-year guard made 15-of-28 shots and 10-of-10 free throws
as he shredded Detroit's daunting defense.
"I just had the opportunity to get open looks, and once you get
one or two or three, then you get in a groove," Wade said. "You
start feeling good and you want to continue it. Coach gave me
the ball every time to make the play happen."
"I think I told everybody he's as good as it gets in our league,
and he's a great kid to go along with it," said Pistons coach
, who coached Wade in the 2004 Olympics. "He had a
Wade saved his best for the fourth quarter, when the Pistons put
the pressure on the Heat with a flurry of 3-pointers. He made
a jumper and soared for an alley-oop dunk that gave Miami a
78-76 lead with 5:09 to go.
"It's a trademark of the great players," Van Gundy said. "You
can have no fear and Dwyane has none. He's got great confidence
and if it doesn't work out, he'll come back at it the next
Detroit's Richard Hamilton
tied it with a jumper before O'Neal
powered his way to a three-point play, giving Miami the lead for
good. A huge blocked shot by Alonzo Mourning
led to Wade's
leakout layup that made it 83-78 with 3:39 left.
Mourning made two free throws before a basket by Chauncey Billups
made it a five-point game. Billups was lining up a
transition 3-pointer but had it swatted from behind by Wade,
leading to a layup by Damon Jones
and an 87-80 bulge with 2:32
"He was unbelievable," Billups said. "He is just so quick."
The Pistons kept things interesting, but Wade sealed it at 90-86
with two free throws with 14 seconds left. He added an
exclamation point with a breakaway dunk in the final second.
"I wanted to be more aggressive than I was the first night on
driving the ball to the hole," said Wade, who did not shoot a
O'Neal had 17 points and 10 rebounds as he played through the
injury and some foul trouble. Jones added 14 points for the
Heat, who improved to 9-1 in the postseason but still are on the
short end of this series.
"It's obvious all we did was get ourselves back in the series,"
Van Gundy said. "They came here to Miami just wanting to take
home the home-court advantage. They got that."
Hamilton scored 21 points and Tayshaun Prince
added 17 for the
second-seeded Pistons, who shot just 38 percent (31-of-81) but
made nine 3-pointers and nearly stole a win until succumbing to
"He was Dwyane Wade. What can you say?" Pistons center Ben Wallace
said. "That's his game and he came out focused in that last quarter."
Games 3 and 4 are Sunday and Tuesday in Detroit, where
the Pistons are 5-1 in the postseason.
"Hopefully, we'll give ourselves a chance to win at home, but I
didn't think this series was over after Game 1," Brown said.
Wade appeared to be in a hurry to shake off Game 1. In the
first quarter, he threw away a pass, fumbled the ball on several
occasions and tripped over his own feet.
But Wade still scored eight points and maintained better control
than Billups, who committed eight turnovers in the first half.
That helped Detroit dig a 47-36 halftime hole.
"Their transition game was decent, but we helped them out with a
lot of turnovers," said Billups, who had no giveaways in the
second half and scored 14 points.
The Heat held a 55-43 lead midway through the third period
before the Pistons closed the quarter with five 3-pointers,
taking a 63-62 lead and bringing a hush over the arena.
Two more by Prince and Lindsey Hunter
pushed the margin to 69-66
before Wade took over, scoring 10 points in less than three
"He's been amazing all year," Heat forward Christian Laettner
said. "We just have to give him his space. ... He's got