Heat pound Pistons to take series lead
Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Dwyane Wade poured in 35 points and pulled down
eight rebounds, as Miami blew past the Detroit Pistons, 98-83, to take the
lead after three games of the Eastern Conference finals.
Shaquille O’Neal added 27 points and grabbed 12 boards, as the Heat rebounded
from a Game 2 loss on Thursday to move ahead in the series. Antoine Walker
ended with 11 points, as the Heat shot 58.2 percent from the field and held on
after nearly blowing a 12-point lead at the end of the third quarter.
Wade shot 13-of-17 from the field and missed just two of his 11 foul shots.
O’Neal made 11-of-15 from the floor, as the Heat moved a step closer to
exacting revenge for losing to Detroit in last year’s East finals.
“Shaq got aggressive early, then I got kind of aggressive early,” Wade said.
“Things were working for us. Then other guys stepped up for a while until we
took it upon ourselves to once again be the leaders of the team and find a way
for us to get a win.”
Chauncey Billups hit for 31 points and Richard Hamilton added 20 for the
Pistons, who struggled by shooting 42.2 percent. Rasheed Wallace ended with 11
points and 10 rebounds.
“Anytime you’re in a series, whoever wins the last game has momentum,” Detroit
head coach Flip Saunders said. “We’ve got to find a way to take that momentum
Game 4 of the best-of-seven series is Monday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami was ahead 74-62 going into the fourth, but the Pistons scored the
opening 11 points of the final quarter. Billups drained a pair of three-
pointers to cap the rally, but the Pistons couldn’t go ahead.
Wade knocked away Antonio McDyess’ dunk attempt and then converted a three-
point play at the other end. O’Neal hit a hook shot for a 79-73 Miami
advantage midway through the period.
“NBA is a game full of runs,” Wade said. “They made their run, now we go to
timeout, we regroup and played excellent offense and took the game from there.
We’re a confident team, we understand that things are going to happen in ball
games. We stuck together, came out and scored and took it from there.”
Six straight points later in the quarter moved the Heat to an 85-75 lead, but
two free throws by Hamilton had the Pistons within 85-79. Miami came right
back to effectively put the game away with Wade nailing two free throws and
Udonis Haslem converting a dunk.
It was a rough night for Detroit center Ben Wallace, who was limited to two
points and six rebounds. He went 2-of-10 at the foul line. In Game 2, he had
nine points and 12 boards.
Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince, who had 24 points and 11 rebounds in
Detroit’s 92-88 win on Thursday, was limited to three points on 1-of-7
shooting in Game 3.
“I think the biggest thing is their forwards were much more aggressive
offensively, and our forwards had Tay back on his heels a little bit,”
Saunders said. “Walker was extremely aggressive to the rim as far as on
The first quarter was tight throughout, but the Heat took a 26-24 lead after
Back-to-back baskets by Walker moved the Heat to a 38-28 lead nearly four
minutes into the second and an 8-1 spurt later in the period had Miami in
front 49-38. O’Neal’s shot a few seconds before halftime finished the push.
Miami held a comfortable lead most of the third quarter, and Gary Payton’s
bucket at the end of the stanza extended the Heat to a 12-point cushion.
The Heat are 6-1 at home in this year’s postseason…Haslem had 10 points and
seven rebounds…Miami outrebounded Detroit, 40-27.