Monday , May , 29 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Heat burn Pistons to take 3-1 series lead

=== Heat burn Pistons to take 3-1 series lead ===

Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Dwyane Wade scored 12 of his game-high 31 points
in the fourth quarter, as the Miami Heat topped the Detroit Pistons, 89-78, to
take a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

Shaquille O’Neal gave Wade plenty of support with 21 points and nine rebounds,
as the dynamic duo combined to shoot 16-of-23 from the field to give Miami a
3-1 advantage in the series.

Udonis Haslem tallied 16 points for the Heat, who are one victory away from
their first trip to the NBA Finals. Pat Riley’s group can make that a reality
with a win in Game 5 of the series Wednesday night at the Palace of Auburn
Hills.

Miami shot 54.9 percent from the field, despite a franchise-low 51 attempts,
but frustrated the Pistons, especially forward Rasheed Wallace, into several
poor shots.

The Heat made 28-of-47 foul shots, but Wade went 15-of-19 at the charity
stripe.

Wallace ended with 12 points before fouling out with 3 1/2 minutes remaining
in the game. Tayshaun Prince had 15 points to pace the Pistons, who shot 39
percent. Chauncey Billups finished with 14 points and seven assists, while
Richard Hamilton was limited to 11 points on 4-of-15 shooting.

The Heat lost to the Chicago Bulls in the 1997 East finals and were beaten by
Detroit in their only other trip to the conference finals, in seven games last
year. The Pistons rallied from a 3-2 deficit to win that series, and now have
their backs to the wall again.

Wade continued to show his postseason toughness, making an acrobatic shot in
the lane while falling to the floor on a foul. He completed the three-point
play to boost the Heat to a 65-61 lead, 56 seconds into the fourth.

Miami started to pull away with a 10-2 spurt later in the quarter, with
O’Neal’s hook shot moving the Heat to a 79-67 cushion with nearly five minutes
left.

Wade and Gary Payton then combined to deliver the knockout punch. Wade passed
the ball from the top of the circle to Payton, who drilled a three from the
left wing to extend the Heat to an 85-71 margin with just over three minutes
remaining.

The Heat shot 57 percent in the opening quarter, with Wade netting eight of
those first-period points. Seven straight points extended the Heat to a 20-12
lead and they were in front 23-17 after 12 minutes.

The Pistons fell behind by as many as 14 points in the second at 42-28, but
then rallied by scoring 10 of the final 12 in the half. Wade had 16 points at
the break in Miami’s 44-38 lead. The 7-foot-1 O’Neal blocked a shot and went
coast-to-coast for a layup during the spurt, sending the crowd into a frenzy.

Billups scored six straight points during an 8-0 Detroit run early in the
third, as the Pistons tied the game at 46. Detroit finally went back in front
at 54-53 on a Wallace dunk, and his three-pointer extended the margin to 57-53
with just over five minutes remaining in the third.

However, O’Neal countered with an alley-oop and turned that into a three-point
play. Three free throws by O’Neal put the Heat back in front, 59-57, and Miami
held a slim 62-60 edge going into the fourth.

Game Notes

The seven home wins this postseason (7-1) for the Heat ties a franchise
record, also done in 1997…Wade became the first Heat player to pass 1,000
points in the playoffs…Lindsey Hunter had 10 points for Detroit…Wallace
went 5-of-13 from the field…Ben Wallace had 11 rebounds for Detroit.

DET MIA