MIAMI, May 25 (Ticker) -- The defending champions were charging, Shaquille O'Neal 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 game.

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 Larry Brown, who coached Wade in the 2004 Olympics. "He had a phenomenal game."

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 time."

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 remaining.

"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 3-pointer.

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 Wade's explosion.

"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 minutes.

"He's been amazing all year," Heat forward Christian Laettner said. "We just have to give him his space. ... He's got unlimited talent."