Thursday , May , 26 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

NBA Playoff Notebook: Wade returns to form in Game 2

(Sports Network) – Miami is tied the Detroit at one game apiece thanks to
the heroic performance of Dwyane Wade in Game 2 of the best-of-seven Eastern
Conference finals.

Wade played a team-high 43 minutes, scored 40 points, grabbed eight rebounds
and dished out six assists to lead the top-seeded Heat to a 92-86 victory over
No. 2 Detroit at AmericanAirlines Arena. The 23-year-old guard was 15-of-28
from the field and made all 10 of his attempts from the foul line.

Wade bounced back from a poor showing in Game 1, when the Pistons defeated
the Heat, 90-81. The Marquette product was a dismal 7-of-25 (28 percent)
from the floor and finished with just 16 points, which is his lowest total in
this year’s playoffs, and four assists.

“I think you guys all saw that tonight, how tough he (Wade) is mentally,”
Miami head coach Stan Van Gundy said after Game 2’s win. “I said after the
last game, you go back to my comments then, I said, look, the thing I have
confidence in, yeah, they’re a great defensive team. I don’t think it will be
easy for Dwyane or any of our guys the entire series, but Dwyane for two years
has been a guy that when you find an answer to him, he’ll go back and take a
look and make some adjustments himself.

“This isn’t a guy who just writes things off, he’s not a guy who makes
excuses. He will give people their due in his mind and their respect and look
at what they’re doing and try to make an adjustment. Now, they will another
adjustment and hopefully we can be ahead of the curve a little bit, but no
matter what happens, this guy will keep trying to work and adjust. It’s one of
the reasons that he’s as good as he is and one of the reasons that in this
organization we have the respect for him we do, not just because of his
talent. This is a smart, humble guy who approaches his profession the right
way.”

Miami also got a solid games from centers Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning
in Game 2’s victory. Shaq, who was 8-for-15 from the floor and blocked two
shots, finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes of court time,
while Mourning, who also blocked two shots, netted six and played inspired
defense in 22 minutes of action.

Shaq is still bothered by his thigh injury, which kept him out of Games 3 and
4 against Washington in the conference semifinals. But he appeared to be a
little more comfortable as Game 2 progressed.

“I felt good,” said O’Neal after Game 2’s win.”Zo (Mourning) is definitely
playing well, playing hard, playing good defense, blocking shots. We had some
slivers tonight, but we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We let the first one
slip away, we didn’t want to let this one slip away. Now we’ve just got to get
up there and get number two, and we should be right back on track.

Detroit was led by guard Richard Hamilton, who ended with a team-best 21
points in Game 2’s loss. Forward Tayshaun Prince netted 17 for the Pistons,
while All-Star center Ben Wallace scored just four points but did grab a game-
high 14 boards.

With Shaq and Mourning’s help, Wade was able to score in transition, and got
back to playing the type of basketball that has helped make him one of the
most electrifying players in the NBA.

The Pistons led Miami, 63-62 heading into the fourth quarter of Game 2.
However, Wade was able to take the team on his back as he scored 20 in the
final 12 minutes to keep the Heat from falling into a 2-0 hole.

“I think I told everybody, you know, he’s (Wade) as good as it gets in our
league, and he’s a great kid to go along with it, and he had a phenomenal
game,” said Detroit head coach Larry Brown after Game 2’s loss. “With that in
mind, we still had a chance to win coming from behind, but he was phenomenal
in every way, and I think Stan (Van Gundy) did a great job with putting him in
that position where he could be successful.”

The series will resume at The Palace of Auburn Hills for Games 3 and 4. The
Pistons, who have won five straight playoff series when the set is tied at
1-1, are 5-1 at The Palace in this year’s playoffs.

Miami has won one playoff series after losing Game 1 of the set. The Heat
fell in the opener of the 1997 conference semifinals to New York, but would
win the series in seven games. In fact, the Heat were down 3-1 and won the
final three contests to advance to the next round.

“It’s going to be a great battle,” said Wade about Game 3. “All these games
are going to be battles. You’ve got two teams with great will. You’ve got a
team that feels like they’ve been underdogs all year, the world champion, so
it’s going to be a battle.

“They’re going to come out and make adjustments, and we’re going to
make adjustments. They did their job. They came up here and got one in our
house. It’s a long playoff. We’ve got to go up there and take care of
business.”

The Heat, who are this far in the playoffs for the second time in franchise
history, are 0-3 all-time on the road in the Eastern Conference finals.

If Wade can continue his stellar play when the series starts up again in
Detroit, the Heat have a great chance to win their first road game in the East
finals.

DET MIA