EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., May 12 (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade
Miami Heat took a solid shot from the New Jersey Nets, then
delivered a telling blow.
Wade fueled a decisive fourth-quarter rally and the Heat again
flashed some defense as they reclaimed home-court advantage with
a hard-fought 103-92 victory over the Nets.
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Wade had 30 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds for the
second-seeded Heat, who overcame 43 points and a wayward elbow
by Vince Carter
to take a 2-1 lead over the third-seeded Nets in
their Eastern Conference semifinal series.
A seesaw of surges ultimately tilted toward the Heat, who ended
a scoreless stretch of nearly four minutes with a 13-2 run
featuring seven points from Wade, who took a shot to the mouth
from Carter early in the third quarter.
Midway through a 15-0 burst by the Nets, Carter blew past Wade
and knocked him to the floor with an inadvertent right elbow.
Wade remained down for a pair of possessions before retreating
to the locker room to have his mouth and teeth examined.
"His arm went back and caught me pretty good in the chin," Wade
said. "It felt like I was on the ground for five minutes. It
seemed like the play never stopped. I did not need any
stitches, so I was able to come back on the floor. There was
some blood in my mouth, which was why they took me to the back.
I wanted to see whether there was anything loose."
After Carter weaved his way through all five defenders for a
spectacular driving scoop shot that gave New Jersey an 81-80
lead with 4:36 remaining, Wade came alive.
He immediately answered with his own tough driving shot, taking
a tumble, drawing a foul and sinking the free throw to give
Miami the lead for good.
"I thought they did a good job defensively," said Wade, who made
7-of-16 shots. "I was trying to be very aggressive. Udonis
(forward Udonis Haslem
) did a great job of mixing up screens."
"When (Wade) gets the ball in the high post and you open up the
floor, he sees everybody and knows what they are doing," Heat
coach Pat Riley
said. "And he still has the uncanny ability to
find the seam or a gap. He makes it look really easy."
The Heat extended their defense, forcing consecutive turnovers
by Carter just over the time line. Gary Payton
took in one for
a layup and Wade sank two free throws after the other for an
87-81 lead with 3:38 to play.
"I think we had four or five (turnovers) in a row," Nets forward
said. "Some of them were forced and some of
them were careless, but you have to give them credit."
After Payton stole a bad pass by Jason Kidd
, Wade made two more
foul shots to cap the surge. It was at least a two-possession
game thereafter as Wade was 6-of-6 from the stripe and added a
jumper in the final minute.
collected 19 points and nine rebounds and
scored 16 points for the Heat, who made 9-of-23
3-pointers and 34-of-40 free throws. James Posey
eight points and 10 boards.
Carter was spectacular, breaking a team playoff record for
points as he made 17-of-34 shots.
"I felt one of the keys was that even though Vince got 43, he
took 34 shots to get them," Riley said. "They are going to Vince
a lot, and Vince is scoring, but the fact is that we shut down
the other guys, and that really helped us."
Jefferson scored 17 points and Kidd added 10 points, 12 assists
and eight rebounds. But in the second half, Kidd was scoreless
and Jefferson managed just two points.
"I played terrible in the second half," Jefferson said. "I
couldn't get anything going. We made that nice run to tie the
game, and I had a couple of turnovers, and I really didn't
affect the game whatsoever in the second half."
The Nets were whistled for 31 fouls and attempted just 20 free
"We pride ourselves on execution, but tonight we fell short,"
Nets coach Lawrence Frank
said. "The one thing that I thought
impacted the game was that our guys had great offensive intent
by attacking the paint, but it's hard to believe that we got
doubled up on the free-throw line."
New Jersey played without veteran backup forward Cliff Robinson
for the first of five games. A solid post defender and
occasional scorer, Robinson was suspended by the NBA for
violating the league's anti-drug policy.
After a first-quarter swing of 39 points in the first two games,
the teams played to a 27-27 tie in the opening period. But the
seesaw began in the second quarter as Miami scored the first
seven points before New Jersey answered with nine in a row.
O'Neal threw in a hook for a 42-38 lead but sat down with his
third foul at the 4:57 mark. Without their giant, the Heat used
3-pointers by Wade and Walker to extend the advantage to 54-45
before Carter responded with a thunderous flying dunk over
former Net Alonzo Mourning
The teeter-totter continued in the second half. O'Neal opened
with a bucket, but the Nets ran off 15 straight points - eight
by Carter and the last nine with Wade in the locker room - for a
64-56 lead. The Heat closed the quarter with an 8-1 spurt for a