Wednesday , May , 11 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Miami is in control

By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor

(Sports Network) – The Miami Heat are two victories away from advancing to
the Eastern Conference finals for the second time in franchise history.

All-Star guard Dwyane Wade scored 31 points and dished out 15 assists, as the
Heat defeated the Washington Wizards, 108-102, in Game 2 of their best-of-
seven Eastern Conference semifinals series. Wade, who was 10-of-15 from the
field in the victory, became the first player in franchise history to record
at least 30 points and 15 assists in a playoff contest.

“He (Wade) was fabulous,” said Miami head coach Stan Van Gundy after Game 2s
win. “The guy is just an extremely bright guy. He sees what’s going on, and
his 15 assists tonight was the most that he has had.”

Shaquille O’Neal contributed 16 points and seven rebounds in 37 minutes of
action during Game 2s victory for the Heat. The All-Star center is averaging
17.5 points and 7.5 boards in the first two games of the set against
Washington.

“He (O’Neal) was really fighting it tonight (Game 2), and you could tell,”
said Van Gundy. “Tonight, he was struggling to run a little bit but he fought
it out, and made a presence down there. He made a couple of unbelievable
passes to give us baskets. He was huge and had a couple rebounds down the
stretch. He was really a warrior tonight, and I really appreciate the effort
he gave us.”

The Wizards were led by their two All-Stars in Game 2s loss. Forward Antawn
Jamison finished with a game-high 32 points and five rebounds, while guard
Gilbert Arenas scored 28 and handed out five assists.

“I thought our guys played very hard,” said Washington head coach Eddie
Jordan. “We played well for the most part. I have to give my guys a lot of
credit for battling out there. It was a very physical game. It was a very
intense game. We gave ourselves a chance. If we play that hard, but a little
bit better at our place, we will have a chance in the next two games.”

Miami also got solid performances from its other three starters in Game 2s
victory. Udonis Haslem scored 14 and pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds,
while Eddie Jones poured in 21 points and Damon Jones netted 14. Eddie Jones
was 8-of-13 from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.

“I tried my best, when I got the ball, to be aggressive and attack the rim,”
said Eddie Jones. “Then he (Jamison) started backing off of me and I let it
fly. I didn’t think I did a great job of rebounding tonight which I was really
upset with because (Antawn) Jamison really got going because of his rebounds.
I got to rebound better and play better defense on him. I let him get going in
the second half.

“When you turn the ball over, you give a team confidence. We knew going in
there that we couldn’t turn the ball over because we aren’t that quick getting
back. They really push the ball down your throat with their layups. If we can
cut down turnovers and rebound better I think we will have a better game
Thursday.”

Wade has continued to be dominant for Miami in the postseason, as he is
averaging 25.5 points and 11 assists in Games 1 and 2 versus the Wizards. He
is shooting 51.5 percent from the floor in the series, but has made just 63
percent (17-for-27) of his foul shots.

The Heat reached the conference semis in 1997, 2000 and 2004. They made it
through the round just once, as they defeated the New York Knicks in seven
games in 1997, but were ousted in five games by the Chicago Bulls in their
only conference finals appearance in franchise history.

Miami, which swept the New Jersey Nets in the first round of the playoffs to
earn its first sweep in franchise history in a best-of-seven set, has won six
straight playoff contests for the first time in franchise history. They
have never lost a postseason series after going ahead 2-0.

“I expect them (Wizards) to come out with a lot of energy,” said Wade about
Game 3. “The crowd is going to be wild. I expect them to come out very
aggressively. I expect every game to be a battle. We need to be able to
withstand that. Hopefully, we will take care of business.”

Washington won all three of its home games at the MCI Center against Chicago
in the first round. The Wizards were 29-12 as the host during the regular
season.

The Heat are not taking anything for granted. They are acting and playing like
a team of veterans that has been here before. This is a squad that is in
control.