MIAMI, May 10 (Ticker) --
In a complete reversal from Game One, the Miami Heat were at their best and the New Jersey Nets were the struggling team.
scored 17 of his 31 points in the decisive first quarter as the Heat rolled to a 111-89 victory over the Nets that evened their Eastern Conference semifinal series at one game apiece.
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scored 21 points for the second-seeded Heat, who were dominant on both ends of the floor as they played with the controlled desperation made necessary by their awful performance in Game 1.
"The real playoffs start now," O'Neal said. "We have to get one out of two up there and take care of business down here. We gave one away but tonight we showed what we are capable of. It's up to us now."
"Our work just begins now," Heat coach Pat Riley
said. "Maybe the other night was an aberration and tonight was an aberration. Now we get down to reality and crunch it out."
In the opener, Miami fell behind by 17 points after one quarter, allowed 64 points in the first half and heard boos from the American Airlines Arena crowd as they gave away home-court advantage with a lackluster 100-88 loss. On Wednesday, it was third-seeded New Jersey that appeared to be going through the motions. With a road win already in hand, the Nets fell behind by 20 points in less than six minutes and got no closer than 15 points thereafter as they began to look ahead to home games on Friday and Sunday.
"It was roles reversed," Nets forward Richard Jefferson
said. "I guarantee at one point in time in this series that there will be a close game. ... We got out big and really dominated Game 1 and people questioned them. They came out and dominated Game 2 and everyone is going to question us. We know the roller-coaster and we're not going to go too crazy on this."
Making things easy for Miami was Wade, who stepped a bit out of character to get his team back in step. The superstar guard made just 13 3-pointers during the season but sank three in the first five minutes to set the tone.
"You could almost sense it this morning that he was in a different state," Riley said. ''He was very upset after the game the other night. He probably played (his) best quarter of the year."
"It makes your job a little bit tougher because you have to get up on him and you have to play your percentages," Jefferson said. "I'm not sure what he is from the 3-point line, but those are the shots you want him to take."
Wade's first 3-pointer capped a 7-0 spurt that opened the game. He beat the shot clock with his next shot from the arc and added another on the next possession, giving Miami a 16-4 lead.
"I've always been a pretty decent (3-point) shooter, but I never had confidence in myself," Wade said. "Now, I have that confidence because I work on it a lot. If people continue to give it to me, I'll continue to step in. ... It can become a weapon in my career."
A timeout by the Nets did nothing to cool the Heat. Jason Williams
made a jumper and 3-pointer, Wade threw in a reverse layup and Udonis Haslem
sank a jumper for a 25-4 bulge with 6:11 left in the first period. A 15-footer by Wade closed the quarter and gave the Heat a 41-19 advantage. While shooting 70 percent (14-of-20) from the field, Miami held New Jersey to five baskets and forced six turnovers.
"It was the plan to come out and be very aggressive (tonight)," Wade said. "I normally come out and defer to guys and try to read the game, but tonight I wanted to come out and attack early."
"In that first quarter, it just seemed like they were in a different place than we were," Nets guard Jason Kidd
Although the shots stopped dropping in the second period, the Heat extended their lead to 25 points just before halftime with aggressive defense that had the Nets struggling in their half-court sets.
"We talked about coming out with more focus," Haslem said. "We wanted to turn up the defensive pressure and not let them have easy passes."
Limited by foul trouble in Game 1, O'Neal got going in the third quarter, scoring 11 points as he dominated the interior. It could have been more had he not missed five straight free throws.
"(Riley) told me to make adjustments on how they were playing," O'Neal said. "I just had to play smarter and stay out of foul trouble."
O'Neal's misses at the line allowed the Nets to creep within 84-67 entering the final period, but a 3-pointer by Antoine Walker
and two by Gary Payton
rebuilt the margin to 97-72 less than three minutes later.
"I hate being up by 20 points in the first quarter and then having to worry about going through the whole game and giving the whole thing up, but I was very happy to be there tonight," Riley said.
Miami was 11-of-20 from the arc after making just 4-of-22 in Game 1. Williams scored 14 points, Haslem added 11 and 10 rebounds and Payton 11 points for the Heat, who shot 53 percent (39-of-74), held a 38-30 rebounding edge and committed just 12 turnovers.
scored 22 points and Jefferson added 16 for the Nets, who shot just 40 percent (28-of-70) and had their four-game postseason winning streak snapped. Jefferson was doubtful with a bone bruise on his right ankle suffered in Game 1.
"That was a tough one for us," Carter said. "They went for the home run at the beginning and were able to connect." They were led by their stars in Shaq and Dwyane Wade. We were knocked on our heels from the jump and just couldn't recover."