Friday , Jun , 02 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Wade, O’Neal lift Heat over Pistons for Finals berth

Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Dwyane Wade battled through flu-like symptoms to
score 14 points and dish out 10 assists, and Shaquille O’Neal came up huge
with 28 points and 16 rebounds, as the Miami Heat advanced to the NBA Finals
for the first time in franchise history with a 95-78 victory over the Detroit
Pistons.

Jason Williams had a near perfect night from the field, on the way to 21
points for the Heat, who won the Eastern Conference finals in six games and
will face either Dallas or Phoenix in the title series, starting next
Thursday.

Williams made his first 10 shots and went 10-of-12 from the field, to carry
the Heat. Miami shot 55.7 percent from the floor, which included a 12-for-14
effort from O’Neal.

Wade missed Game 6 of the 2005 East finals against the Pistons with a rib
injury, and the Heat lost the last two contests of the series. This time, the
All-Star guard wouldn’t let his health prevent him from helping the Heat to
the NBA Finals.

Wade missed the Heat’s morning shootaround practice and was given
intravenous fluids at a local hospital, but still started Friday’s game.
Although, he had just four points by halftime and didn’t come out right away
for the start of the second half, Wade made a big impact late in the third
quarter. He scored 10 points during a late flurry, including Miami’s last
eight, as the Heat took a commanding 72-53 lead going into the fourth and led
by double digits the rest of the way.

Richard Hamilton had 33 points for the Pistons, who lost an elimination game
for just the second time (8-2) since 2004. Rasheed Wallace and Tayshaun Prince
each added 10 points, but Detroit shot just 33.3 percent.

Miami’s Pat Riley became the second head coach in NBA history to lead his team
to the Finals during three different decades. He led the Lakers to the title
series during the 1980’s and then engineered the New York Knicks in the
1990’s.

DET MIA