- Adrian Wojnarowski
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So, Shaq stayed as Wade did his shooting. And they talked. And talked. And when Shaq was done with him, Pat Riley found his young star at Wednesday's morning shootaround and decided, "You could almost sense that he was in a different state."
He would come out fast and furious, slashing, shooting and destroying these Nets with a magnificent start to a 31-point performance in the Heat's 111-89 Game 2 victory. This was Game 1, reversed.
All tied 1-1.
"I normally come out and defer to guys and try to read the game," Wade said, "but tonight I wanted to come out and attack early."
He would leave the Nets laying listless on the arena floor, bloodied, beaten and never able to respond. Human nature dictated the Heat would be the hungriest, the neediest, the almost guaranteed victors Wednesday night. It didn't matter that Richard Jefferson made a game-time choice to try out his tender ankle, because the open shots and the easy fast-break baskets off Miami turnovers were not there for Jefferson, Vince Carter or Jason Kidd.
Wade loosened things for Shaq, who stopped fighting with officials and took his coach's advice: adjust. He was pure finesse, pure poetry, using his deftness to go around the Nets' Jason Collins instead of trying to go through him.
Still, this was a night for his self-professed little brother, Wade. It must be frightening for opponents to see Wade developing that 3-point shot, because he's so devastating going to the basket. "I've always been a decent shooter, but I never had confidence in myself," Wade said.
So, there was Wade late Tuesday night, shooting in the silence of the practice gymnasium at AmericanAirlines Arena, waiting to move downstairs, into the big gym, the big noise, where playoff legacies begin to be born. All alone there, Shaq told Wade to shoot. The kid listens.
Adrian Wojnarowski is a sports columnist for The Record (N.J.) and a regular contributor to ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPNWoj10@aol.com. His book, "The Miracle of St. Anthony: A Season with Coach Bob Hurley and Basketball's Most Improbable Dynasty," is now available in paperback.
9hMatt Walks, ESPN.com