MIAMI, May 27 (Ticker) --
With Tom Brady in attendance, Dwyane Wade
showed that he too can lead a game-winning drive.
Wade scored 10 of his 35 points in the final seven minutes as
the Miami Heat posted a 98-83 victory over the Detroit Pistons
to take a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
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collected 27 points and 12 rebounds for Miami,
which is halfway to avenging a seven-game loss to Detroit in
last year's conference finals. The second-seeded Heat can send
the Pistons to the brink of elimination Monday, when the teams
meet here in Game 4.
"We've got to find a way to take that momentum back," Detroit
coach Flip Saunders
said. "It's going to be important for us to
come (Monday) and compete, and somehow we've got to find a way
to squeeze one out down here."
The top-seeded Pistons never led after the first three minutes
of the contest but opened the fourth quarter with a crisp 11-0
run to close within 74-73 on back-to-back 3-pointers by
with 7:45 left.
Miami coach Pat Riley
called a timeout and his two superstars
promptly delivered consecutive baskets to restore order. Wade
drove to the rim and converted a difficult three-point play to
begin a game-ending 24-10 burst and O'Neal added a hook shot in
the lane on the next trip for a 79-73 lead.
"At 74-73 and seven minutes to go, and we had the lead the whole
game, you're about ready to meet your basketball maker," Riley
said. "I think our team responded extremely well coming out (of
the timeout). Dwyane hit a real tough runner that got us a
three-point lead, then he took it to six and seven, and that was
"That (three-point play) was probably the play of the game, and
Dwyane had a lot of those," Saunders added.
In just his third NBA season, Wade already has earned a
reputation as one of the league's most clutch players.
"They put the ball in my hands and trust me to make the right
play," said Wade, who made 13-of-17 shots. "My teammates depend
on me. Guys look at me and say, 'It's your time.' That's all
The baskets by Wade and O'Neal sparked an 11-2 run for the Heat,
who took an 85-75 lead with 4:26 to play. Richard Hamilton
made four free throws to bring Detroit within 85-79 with 3:49
left, but Wade answered with two foul shots of his own and
fed Udonis Haslem
for a jumper to restore a
"I get in a pick-and-roll situation and get the ball kicked back
out to me. I try and make plays out of it," Walker said. "I
really try to take advantage of my opportunities when they
The closest the Pistons got the rest of the way was 91-83 on a
3-pointer by Billups with 2:15 remaining. It was the team's
first basket in 5 1/2 minutes and promptly was answered by Wade,
who made two foul shots and converted a three-point play to
seal the victory.
Walker scored 11 points and Haslem added 10 for Miami, which
shot a blistering 58 percent (39-of-67) and dominated the
Meanwhile, the usually solid Pistons never got into an offensive
rhythm as they shot just 42 percent (27-of-64) and committed 14
turnovers. The two-time defending conference champions made
just 22-of-33 free throws, including only 2-of-10 by
, who has made just 13-of-56 foul shots this postseason.
"When you fall behind (and) you come back, you exert a lot of
energy," Saunders said. "We had a situation after we got within
one, we turned it over a couple times in a row and they came
down and made a couple of big plays."
Billups scored 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting and Hamilton added
20 but made just 6-of-15 shots. Tayshaun Prince
Pistons' first three points but none thereafter, while
managed just 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
"Whoever is the most aggressive from start to finish is going to
come away with the victory," Billups said. "We've got to try
to attack early in the games, offensively and defensively.
We've got to be more aggressive."
Wade scored 11 points in the opening quarter and finished the
first half with 15 on 7-of-9 shooting, helping the Heat to a
49-38 lead at intermission. He scored 11 straight points for
Miami at one point and capped the opening half with an
underhanded alley-oop feed to O'Neal in the waning seconds.
After committing nine turnovers in Game 2, Wade knew he was
going to have to take better care of the basketball for the Heat
to be successful.
"I made some sloppy, stupid turnovers (in Game 2)," said Wade,
who had four turnovers in this one. "Even without looking at
film prior to the game, I knew for us to win, I can't have nine
turnovers in a game."
"I thought (Wade) really, really took control for most of the
game," Saunders said. "And Shaq was extremely aggressive early
in the game."
O'Neal indeed came out strong in the early stages of the
contest, scoring 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the first
half. He grabbed eight rebounds in the opening 24 minutes,
while Detroit's starting frontcourt combined for only 10 boards
in that stretch.
"Today I just told the guys, 'Bring it to me, get me going, keep
me going,' and they did," said O'Neal, whose effort inside was
an integral factor in Miami outscoring Detroit in the paint,
50-16. "We're a power team. We've got to go inside."