Wade and Shaq sizzle Mavs to even series
Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Dwyane Wade rose to the occasion again with 36
points despite a left knee injury and Shaquille O’Neal had a solid performance
with 17 points and 13 rebounds, as the Miami Heat ran past the Dallas
Mavericks, 98-74, to even the NBA Finals after four games.
Not only did O’Neal keep his composure after being knocked down hard on a flagrant foul in the third quarter, but he was a dominant force in the middle and part of a Miami defense that suffocated Dirk Nowitzki into a 2-for-14 shooting night.
James Posey added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who limited Dallas to 31.6 percent shooting and an NBA Finals record-low seven points in the last quarter.
Jason Terry scored 17 points for Dallas, while Nowitzki had 16 points and nine rebounds. Jerry Stackhouse also scored 16 for the Mavs and was the centerpiece of a rough foul on O’Neal late in the third.
The Heat were coming off a 98-96 victory at home on Tuesday behind 42 points and 13 rebounds from Wade, and now the Heat have a chance to move ahead in the series between the two first-time participants in the NBA Finals.
Game 5 is scheduled for Sunday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Miami’s win Thursday ensures there will be a Game 6 at Dallas next Tuesday.
Midway through the third quarter, Jason Williams came up with a loose ball and slowed up on the fast break to leave the ball for O’Neal for a dunk. Stackhouse plowed into O’Neal, sending his 7-foot-1, 325-pound frame tumbling into the photographer’s row, under the basket.
Wade wrapped his arms around his teammate, preventing O’Neal from receiving his second technical foul of the night, which would have been an automatic ejection.
The Heat were in front 68-51 at that juncture. Miami’s Antoine Walker received a technical foul for arguing and Stackhouse hit the free throw with 6:29 left. However, O’Neal sank both of his foul shots and the Heat extended to a 76-57 lead on a thunderous dunk by O’Neal with 4:13 left in the quarter.
The Mavs cut the deficit to 78-67 going into the fourth, but couldn’t get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
A three-point play by Devin Harris had Dallas within 80-70, but the Mavericks went ice cold from the field in the last 12 minutes to the tune of 2-for-18.
O’Neal hit two free throws after Harris’ points to begin a 16-2 run for the Heat.