Wednesday , Jun , 21 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

The Heat is on as Miami wins first-ever title

=== The Heat is on as Miami wins first-ever title ===

Dallas, TX (Sports Network) – Dwyane Wade poured in 36 points and drilled four
key free throws with under 30 seconds remaining to lead the Miami Heat to the
franchise’s first NBA championship with a 95-92 win over Dallas in Game 6 of
the NBA Finals at American Airlines Center.

The Heat won the series 4-2 and became only the third team in league history
to come back from a 2-0 deficit to win the title. The 1968-69 Boston Celtics
and the 1976-77 Portland Trail Blazers also turned the trick.

Down by three entering the fourth quarter, Dallas played with a sense of
urgency but had a tough time catching the Heat. They finally managed to
deadlock things at 79 after a pair of Josh Howard free throws with 7:06 left.

The Heat responded, however. Udonis Haslem buried a jumper from inside the top
of the key and Wade, who was named the NBA Finals’ MVP, drained a pair from
the line to give Miami an 83-79 cushion with 5:09 remaining.

Jerry Stackhouse drove down the left baseline for an easy layup but the Heat
had the answer again with a Wade free throw and a big three from James Posey
in the right corner to make it 87-81, with only 3:43 left on the clock.

“I knew (Posey) was open,” Wade said. “I told (Posey) to be ready to
shoot…He made a big shot for us.”

Dallas hung tough. Howard got loose for a driving layup and Dirk Nowitzki hit
a pair from the line after a beautiful block by Stackhouse to get the Mavs
within two, 87-85, with 2:57 on the clock.

Posey’s running jumper was offset by a huge trey from Stackhouse in the right
corner and Dallas was within a point, 89-88, with 1:37 left.

Jason Williams missed his own three from the right corner but the Mavs could
not corral the rebound. Haslem was there and deposited a short jumper that
put Dallas on the brink of elimination, 91-88.

Howard gave the Mavericks life by sticking a 17-foot jumper from the top with
42 ticks on the clock.

Dallas played stifling defense but Wade managed to draw contact from Nowitzki
and the officials bailed him out with a whistle. The superstar calmly drained
both free throws with 26.1 left.

Nowitzki tried to find Erick Dampier on the other end but the big center lost
control of the pass and Wade was there for the steal.

Dallas quickly fouled Wade but he was true from the line again and Miami was
up 95-90 with 17.7 seconds left in the Mavs’ season.

Howard made a pair from the line and Dallas quickly fouled Wade.

This time, the superstar gave the Mavericks hope and missed both from the
line.

Jason Terry brought the ball up court and got a great look from the right wing
but his three fell off the rim giving Miami the NBA Championship.

Wade finished 10-of-18 from the floor and 16-of-21 from the line. He also
pulled down 10 rebounds, dished out five assists and had four steals for the
Heat.

“I don’t want to say I put this team on my back. We did it together. It’s been
15 strong,” Wade said. “We worked through a lot but we knew inside this team
was built for the playoffs.”

Haslem added 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Antoine Walker recorded 14
points and 11 rebounds. Shaquille O’Neal fought foul trouble throughout the
game and had just nine points but pulled down 12 boards.

“I knew he was a special player,” O’Neal said of Wade. “I know that being on a
championship caliber team, you have to have a great 1-2 punch.”

Nowitzki had 29 points and 15 rebounds for Dallas. Terry added 16 points but
shot just 7-of-25 from the field. Howard netted 14 points and pulled down 12
boards while Stackhouse and Marquis Daniels each had 12 points.

“I go down with my guys,” said Dallas head coach Avery Johnson. “I’ll try to
get better this summer, they’ll try to get better. But, we had an incredible
year.”

Dallas regained the services of Stackhouse for the game. The veteran was
suspended by the NBA for Game 5 after a flagrant foul on O’Neal during the
third quarter of Game 4.

Dallas pressed Miami from the opening tip with a lot of energy and sprinted
out to a lead, 26-12, on Nowitzki’s slam with just under three minutes to go
in the opening quarter.

“I thought we really stepped the game up in the beginning,” said Nowitzki. “We
had good looks in transition.”

The Heat finished the frame strongly with an 11-4 run and cut the deficit
down to seven, 30-23.

Dallas built the lead back to 10 in the quarter but couldn’t finish again and
Miami went on an 13-2 burst to end the half with the lead 49-48.

The pressure seemed to be getting to the Mavericks in the third quarter. A 6-0
run early in the quarter put the Heat on top, 59-53. Walker capped the mini-
run with a driving finger roll with just over eight minutes left in the frame.

“I’m sure as more time goes by, we can be proud of what we did this year,”
Nowitzki said. “We had a heck of a year…obviously right now, the frustration
is high but once the summer comes along we can be proud of what we did.”

Miami kept inching away from Dallas. Alonzo Mourning’s lay-in, with 1:51 left
in the frame, gave the Heat their largest lead of the night, 68-59.

Feeling their season slipping away, the Mavs finally finished a quarter
strongly and climbed to within three, 71-68, heading to the final frame.

Game Notes

Miami was 5-6 on the road in this year’s playoffs, while Dallas was 8-3 as the
host…This was Avery Johnson’s first four-game losing streak as an NBA head
coach…Miami won the battle of the boards, 56-50…The Heat shot 44.9 percent
to just 37 percent for Dallas…Wade ended the series averaging 34.7 points
per game; the third-best mark in history for a player in his first finals
series.

DAL MIA