Updated: May 26, 2005, 2:23 AM ET

Dwyane's game

Follow me to Motown!

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade didn't just receive words of wisdom. As far as basketball goes, he received gospel on the highest level in order to help the Miami Heat star guard best respond from a tough start in the Eastern Conference finals.

There was Heat president and former coaching great Pat Riley giving him advice. Heat coach Stan Van Gundy and Wade's college and high school coach broke down their views.

And many hours after larger-than-life teammates Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning drove with him around Miami to get in his ear, O'Neal called Wade's house around 4 a.m. Wednesday morning just to make sure his fellow NBA All-Star teammate had it all down.

And after being limited to 16 points and missing 18 shots in a Game 1 loss, Wade led the Heat to a 92-86 victory in Game 2 that tied up the series by scoring 40 points on Wednesday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.

"I just listened to the people I listen to all year," Wade said. "All my coaches. My high school coach. My college coach. My NBA coach. I listened to them. I know I'm human. I know I am going to have some bad games. But it's all how you come back the next day, the next game. I helped my team get a win tonight, and that's all I can ask for."

Wade entered the East finals as his conference's hottest player with an average of 28.6 points per game. But he also entered it being matched up against his conference's toughest defense in the Pistons.

Wade's usual I-95 wide-open driving lanes were changed to gridlock traffic, thanks to the Pistons' big men in Game 1 and he was limited to jumpers that didn't fall. With a 7-2 wingspan and a 5-inch height advantage over him, Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince stymied the 6-foot-4 Wade defensively. The Pistons' help defense also seemed tailor-made to stop Wade with Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton and Lindsey Hunter waiting their turn.

But instead of feeling sorry for himself, Wade never lost his confidence.

Following Tuesday's practice, he worked on his balance and his jumper. He also watched lots and lots of game film. He listened to everybody that had something to say to help him. And then he listened to his mind and heart and showed up with an aggressive mentality as if Game 1 never occurred.

Early in Game 2, Wade drove to the basket for two easy layups. After shooting just two free throws in Game 1, he equaled that in the first quarter alone. He finished the first like the budding star nicknamed "Flash" with a Converse commercial and not like just some confused second-year player with eight points on 3-of-7 shooting. And Wade continued to get better as the game continued saving his best for the fourth-quarter with 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting and a game-sealing dunk.

Wade did more than just respond to his Game 1 struggles. He dominated in Game 2.

When asked where his mental strength came from to stay strong after Game 1, Wade said: "It comes from God. God has given me the ability to be in this position, to be a key component on one of the best teams in the league, playing in the NBA. I have all the confidence in the world in myself, and if I have a bad game, I try to come out the next game and do something different and be aggressive. I believe in my ability and my teammates believe in me. So I have no worries that way."

Said Van Gundy: "You guys all saw that tonight, how tough he is mentally."

Whether Wade is mentally tough to continue getting those late night phone calls from Shaq might be a different story. "My teammates care about me," Wade said. "I got a call late [Wednesday morning] and I thought Shaq was crazy when he called me because I looked at the time. I think it said 3:45, 2:45 something. He just wanted to reiterate to me what we talked about on our ride. He told me to come here relaxed, calm. He couldn't sleep so he wanted to wake me up, I guess."

And after a tough Game 1, the Pistons also know that Wade is awake now, too.

Talk back to the Daily Dime gang

Dimes Past: May 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21 | 22 | 23 | 24 | 25

Group Shrug
Rasheed Wallace missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game with 29 seconds remaining, but don't expect him to be singing the blues long.

I guess Dwyane Wade's wife Siohvaughn wouldn't let him take the kitchen sink. Wouldn't let him squeeze it in the back seat of his Chrysler 300 before heading off to the Triple A. But if she did he would have thrown that at the Detroit Pistons, too. There was one scoop shot after another. He dunked every way possible. That jumper never looked better. But you know what? The Pistons barely flinched. They took everything he had, in front of a raucous home crowd, and still were down by just two with 14 seconds to go.

Yes, they lost but make no mistake, the Pistons are in the driver's seat. They go back to Detroit all tied up with three days to regroup before Game 3 Sunday night. Not that they have much to change. Aside from a severe cold spell in the first half from the perimeter and an uncharacteristic eight turnovers by Chauncey Billups, they won't change much.

"I'm proud of our guys and the way they played tonight," said Pistons coach Larry Brown. "I think we're going to keep doing what we're doing. You guys are always talking about adjustments but I like what our players did tonight."

What Brown is talking about is how his veteran squad kept it together and fought back under adverse conditions. Going down 12 on the road in the playoffs is a recipe for disaster. It could have gotten ugly but there was a three from the top of the key by Billups. Then a bomb from the right elbow by Lindsey Hunter to give the Pistons a 63-62 lead, their first of the second half.

That's experience. The Pistons are hardly rattled because they know what it's like to lose a game on the road in the conference finals. They know it isn't the end of the world and certainly not the end of the series. They also know Miami has a roster full of players, including four starters (all but Shaq) who have never played this far into the season. Every game that passes is new territory for the Heat. While they're trying to figure things out and make this adjustment or that, the Pistons just play. They've seen all this before.

"We have a veteran team so we are going to put this behind us and get ready for the next game," said Billups. Simple as that. And Dwyane Wade won't play better than he did tonight for the rest of the series.

Especially not in Detroit. Not unless there's room for the kitchen sink on the team plane.

Chris Palmer, from American Airlines Arena in Miami

Mourning Again In Miami

Are you tracking the Chronicles of Zo? On a night when the game and the world belonged to young Dwyane, don't ignore the latest chapter in the story of the old man.

Once upon a time, Miami was his town. Then came the illness, the release, the comeback, and the homecoming. By the time he signed with his Heat for the second time he less baller than feel-good story. He was a guy who'd beaten back fear and the limits of his own body, but he wasn't the man. Not by a long shot.

And then, as the charm of his comeback wore off a bit, there were rumblings: He's a jerk who did the Nets and Raptors wrong, some said. Or he's hopping on a championship bandwagon. Or his keyed-up roars and muscle flexes after every bucket and block are clownish and unjustified.

Even the Pistons, who know better than to rile their opponents, were saying publicly that they didn't sweat him, that his presence on the floor with Shaq was more desperation than anything.

And then came Game 2, when his club needed him to be big. Not larger than life, not the Zo that once was, just big. And he responded. He mattered when it mattered. He came up with six points without missing a shot, a couple of boards, and four blocks in 22 minutes. They didn't run anything for him (those days are long gone), but he found ways to contribute. And those blocks, those were more than just a contribution. They were a message.

Y'all ain't the only ones who play D, said Zo's BLKs. Yo, Rip, better think twice before floating into the lane, they said. After a Game 1 in which Miami looked small and tentative, those blocks were big.

Eric Neel

Voice Of The Nation

Marc Stein's take on the Spurs in the Tuesday edition of the Daily Dime following the Spurs' Game 2 win in the Western Conference finals brought a big response from our readers, especially those who inhabit (as well as those who wish to be no part of) Spurs Nation:

Neil (San Antonio): It may be a moot point now with the crafty Ginobili making the Spurs "exciting," but will someone explain why good defense gets so disparaged in the NBA, like in no other professional sport? Why don't we hear folks saying, "Randy Johnson, threw a no-no . . . man, how ugly can baseball get!" or "The Eagles have such ugly, suffocating defense. Why watch football anymore?"

Dan (New York): I've become a fan of Manu Ginobili over the course of these playoffs, just like everyone else. He is tearing everyone up with his heart and his versatility. I still have a question, though. He, more than anyone else, seems to take about five steps to get to the basket after picking up his dribble, allowing him to avoid defenders and pull off circus-looking shots. Last night's layup was great, but he traveled about 15 feet without dribbling the ball. How did this become acceptable over the years? As a fan who has played a lot of basketball, it is more aggravating than anything else, and announcers never talk about it. Ginobili is a great player, but he wouldn't be able to pull off such seemingly impossible maneuvers if they would enforce the rules. Anyone else ever think about this?

Brandon (Alamo Country): Best Daily Dime in a long time. This is the best Spurs team I've ever seen and I don't think the Suns can recover from those losses at home.

Fan from Manhattan Beach, CA: I will not watch any more basketball if the boring Spurs go any further. I am sick of watching them and I do not appreciate the way that they play. They win games on the free throw line at the end of the game and complain continually throughout the game to the refs like they are getting shafted. Surprisingly it works. But it does nothing for the typical fan of the game. Boring.

SportsNation playoff index

Extreme Behavior

Wednesday's Best
Dwyane Wade, Miami:
After looking all too human in Game 1, Flash the Superhero returned on Wednesday to overcome the Pistons' suffocating defense. Pick a stat, any stat:

  • 15-for-28 FGs
  • 10-for-10 FTs
  • 20 fourth-quarter points
  • Six assists
  • Two blocked shots
  • 92-86 win in Game 2 of East finals


    Wednesday's Worst
    Pistons' starting backcourt: How soon will Larry Brown erase the memory of an eight-turnover game by his point guard, Chauncey Billups? The man nicknamed Smooth combined with Rip (Hamilton) for 14-of-34 shooting, putting the Pistons into one of their trademark funks for the first two-and-a-half quarters (46 points) and opening the door for Wade's heroics.

    Play of the Day
    It's rare the Dime credits the Player of the Day with the Play of the Day, but Wade gave us little choice. Pick a play, any play:

  • The impossible lefty layup in fast-break traffic to put the Heat up 74-73 with 6:31 remaining.
  • The alley-oop jam that put the Heat up 78-76 with 5:11 left and lit Miami on fire.
  • The spectacular come-from-behind blocked shot on Billups' 3-pointer with 2:38 remaining.
  • The two free throws with 0:14 remaining, to give the Heat a four-point lead.
  • The exclamation-mark, poster-worthy slam with 0:01 on the clock.

    Mr. Outspoken
    A wink and a smile. -- Dwyane Wade

    A little nonverbal communication said it all Wednesday. With 14 seconds remaining, Wade shrugged off the verbal harassment of Billups and Hamilton to nail two free throws and put the Heat up four. After the first, Wade turned around, looked at Rip and winked, and then turned back and smiled his famous smile.

    Royce Webb

  • Pic Of The Day
    Issac Baldizon/Getty Images
    DWade's dunk with one second remaining was the only two of his 40 points the Heat didn't need on Wednesday.

    Elias Says
    Dwyane Wade scored 20 points in the fourth quarter of the Heat's 92-86 win over the Pistons in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals -- the second time in the 2005 playoffs that he has had a 20-point quarter. Wade scored 22 in the third quarter in Game 4 of the Heat's second-round series, against Washington.

    The last NBA player with a pair of 20-point quarters in the same playoff year was Paul Pierce, who scored 21 points in a quarter twice during the 2003 playoffs.

    Elias Sports Bureau

    Questioning Nash

    Paul (Dallas): Do you think Steve Nash could have excelled this much with the Mavericks? And do you see his lack of defense as a reason Phoenix is 0-2?

    Brian James: Paul, I think Nash would have made Dallas even better. He is just that good. His defense is not what is wrong with Phoenix. They need better production out of the role players and the lack of the bench support has been exposed by Horry and Barry on the other side. The Spurs are that good.

    Ben (NY): Should Phoenix start putting Parker and Ginobili on the ground like Seattle did? Are they even tough enough to do it?

    Brian James: Ben, nice idea, but who do you play when your starters foul out? Plus Phoenix plays much better when the game is sped up, not by letting the other team shoot tons of FTs. Phoenix can get this series back to Arizona without doing that.

    Full chat transcript

    Manu Fever

    David (Brownsville, Texas): How would you rate Manu Ginobili as compared to other star shooting guards. What assets does he have? What can he improve?

    Gail Goodrich: Manu is a big favorite of mine -- first of all, he's left-handed and I'm partial to lefties!

    He brings so much intensity and enthusiasm to the game, he is fearless, he is tremendous at penetrating to the basket, he can shoot the ball from the outside and he's a very good defensive player. Manu is invaluable.

    If there is a weakness or an area that he could improve, it's his judgment with respect to his ball-handling and passing. Sometimes, he tries to do too much. He sometimes gets a little out of control and he'll make those high-risk passes.

    But what you like about him is he comes to play every night with that excitement. In this playoff, he's really showing that he can make big plays in crunch time. He is really stepping up.

    Full chat transcript

    People's Choice
    SportsNation wouldn't be too thrilled by a repeat trip to the NBA Finals by the Pistons. Of the final four teams, Detroit received the least support in our poll, exactly 40 percent of the 50,000 fans responding. San Antonio received more than half the vote in the West, spurred on perhaps by a flood of fans celebrating its Game 2 win on Tuesday.

    Which NBA Finals pairing would you be most interested in watching?
    32.8% Miami vs. Phoenix
    28.9% Detroit vs. San Antonio
    27.8% Miami vs. San Antonio
    11.1% Detroit vs. Phoenix



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