Wade, Heat push Nets to the brink
East Rutherford, NJ (Sports Network) - Dwyane Wade poured in 31 points and Gary Payton hit a clutch three-pointer late in the contest to help the Miami Heat assume firm command of their Eastern Conference semifinals series against the New Jersey Nets with a 102-92 win in Game 4 at Continental Airlines Arena.
Udonis Haslem posted a double-double with a playoff career-high 20 points and 11 rebounds and Antoine Walker also sprang for 20 points for the Heat, who now own a three games to one lead.
Shaquille O'Neal finished with 16 points and eight boards in the win.
Game 5 of this best-of-seven series is scheduled to be played on Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena.
"We know that to beat anybody in the playoffs we need three, four guys in double figures," Walker said.
Vince Carter paced the Nets with 26 points and five assists and Nenad Krstic dropped in 20 points and gathered 14 rebounds for New Jersey, which cut its deficit to two in the closing minutes but were unable to move ahead. Jason Kidd posted a triple-double with 17 points, 12 assists and 13 rebounds.
Richard Jefferson hit a big three-pointer from the wing with 1:41 remaining that made it 92-90, but Miami rattled off eight straight points in response.
Haslem was fouled after Jefferson's shot and sank both of his free throws, and Krstic's attempt from the baseline at the other end was short to give the Heat possession with about 1 1/2 minutes left and a four-point advantage.
Payton then chose a perfect time to hit his first shot of the night, as his three-point try from the left side was true to push the lead to 97-90. Miami then went 5-of-6 from the line down the stretch to secure the win.
Miami played front-runner for the majority of the contest, but was never able to pull away. It used a 9-0 run in the latter stages of the first quarter -- capped by Wade's bank shot with 2:32 to play -- that erased a four-point deficit and put the Heat on top, 23-18. After 12 minutes, the lead was 27-24.
The Heat outscored New Jersey by an identical margin in the second quarter to build a 54-48 lead by halftime. Wade was the catalyst in the first half, netting 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
"I was in a flow early," Wade said. "I was looking to be very aggressive. I know my team now; I know that we sometimes don't get off to good starts, so I wanted to be the one to get the engine going."
The Nets rattled off the first six points of the third quarter to tie the contest, but Miami responded with an 8-2 run -- propelled by a pair of Walker treys -- to reclaim command.
The Heat kept New Jersey at arm's length for the rest of the quarter until Krstic nailed a three with two seconds left to make it 76-73 heading into the fourth.
New Jersey moved to within one with about 10 minutes left on the clock following Jefferson's driving dunk, but were never able to move in front.
"It was a perfect opportunity for us, but we couldn't get over the hump," said Kidd.
With his triple-double, Kidd moved into a tie for third place with Wilt Chamberlain for most triple-doubles in playoff history with nine. Only Magic Johnson (30) and Larry Bird (10) have more...Kidd is also the only Net to reach the 500-rebound mark in the postseason...The Heat shot 52.9 percent from the floor, while New Jersey shot 42.9 percent...The Nets outrebounded the Heat, 48-39...Wade also had eight assists and seven boards.NJN MIA