- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 26, 2005

MIAMI — They call him “Flash,” and Dwyane Wade certainly performed like a superhero in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

Miami’s up-and-coming superstar had yet another impressive postseason performance last night, rediscovering his aggressiveness and taking over in the fourth quarter by scoring 20 of his 40 points as the Heat defeated the Detroit Pistons 92-86 to even the best-of-seven series.

This was the type of effort the Heat had grown accustomed to receiving from the 23-year-old during their sweeps of New Jersey and Washington in the first two rounds of the playoffs, and Wade was able to summon another burst of brilliance to avoid having his team head to Detroit down 2-0.

Wade scored 14 of Miami’s first 16 points in the final quarter, then raced in from behind and came up with a crucial block of Chauncey Billups’ 3-point attempt to help the Heat hold off the defending NBA champions.

“I watched a lot of film, listened to a lot of people and used everything my college coach and NBA coach told me, too,” said Wade, who shot 7-for-25 in Game 1. “They told me to come back with a good game. I was rushing some shots. I wasn’t being patient. Tonight I came out patient.”

The series resumes Sunday night, each team having asserted itself once.

Wade eclipsed 30 points for the sixth time this postseason. Shaquille O’Neal added 17 points and 10 rebounds for Miami, and Damon Jones had 14 points.

Richard Hamilton scored 21 points and Tayshaun Prince had 17 for the Pistons, who came back from a 14-point deficit but were helpless to stop Wade when he decided it was time to take over.

“Dwyane has always been able to put things behind him and make adjustments. He’s very mature, and he’s not going to get beat mentally,” coach Stan Van Gundy had predicted.

Wade’s fourth-quarter outburst started as he opened the period with a bank shot and a driving dunk before O’Neal hit a jump hook. Wade scored Miami’s next 10 points on a tip-in, two 14-footers, a drive into the lane and an alley-oop dunk, the last of which put the Heat ahead 78-76 with 5:12 left.

Detroit tied it once more before O’Neal converted a three-point play with 3:59 remaining to make it 81-78 and put the Heat ahead for good.

After Alonzo Mourning blocked a shot by Ben Wallace, Wade converted a fast-break layup for a five-point lead and Mourning added two free throws with 3:18 left to make it 85-78. A basket by Billups and a miss by Wade gave Detroit a chance to pull within two, but Wade came up behind Billups and swatted away his 3-point attempt — a play that led to a fast-break layup by Jones that made it 87-80.

The Pistons scored the next four points and had one more chance to tie, but Rasheed Wallace missed a 3-pointer with 28 seconds left — one of 14 misses from behind the arc for the Pistons on a night when they fell too much in love with the long shot.

Detroit made its comeback from a 14-point deficit by hitting five 3-pointers in the third quarter, and the Pistons eventually made seven straight 3s while enduring a stretch of nearly 12 minutes without a 2-pointer.

Wade was more aggressive going to the basket right from the start, and he ended the first quarter with eight points, four assists and two rebounds to help Miami to a 24-23 lead. The game began turning the Heat’s way in the second quarter as Detroit shot just 5-for-20 with six turnovers — four by Billups after he also had four in the first quarter.

Damon Jones went 3-for-3 from the field in the second quarter, including 2-for-2 on 3-pointers, and Eddie Jones also hit a 3 as Miami outscored the Pistons 23-13 in the period for a 46-37 halftime lead.

Detroit coach Larry Brown kept Prince on the bench for the entire second quarter, and Rasheed Wallace played only two minutes in the quarter.

Prince hit a 3-pointer midway though the third quarter to help Detroit get within five, and Hamilton ended an 0-for-8 slump by hitting a 3-pointer later in the quarter. The Pistons’ final five field goals of the quarter came from 3-point range, including a shot by Lindsey Hunter that rattled in with 5.3 seconds left in the period, ending an 11-1 run, to put Detroit ahead 63-62.

Notes — Brown, responding to a published report suggesting he might want to leave the Pistons after this season and become Cleveland’s president of basketball operations, said he has never spoken to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Brown said he would like to remain Detroit’s coach — but only if he’s able to overcome a health problem he plans to address as soon as the season ends. The teams combined for 46 free throws — 23 each [-] after attempting only 22 in Game 1. Billups’ eight turnovers was three shy of the NBA playoff record by John Williamson of the New Jersey Nets against Philadelphia on April 11, 1979.

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