Miami wins series 4-2 (Game 5 of 6)

Miami wins series 4-2

Game 1: Saturday, April 22nd
Game 2: Monday, April 24th
Game 3: Thursday, April 27th
Game 4: Sunday, April 30th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 2nd
Game 6: Thursday, May 4th

Bulls 78

(41-41, 20-21 away)

Heat 92

(52-30, 31-10 home)

8:00 PM ET, May 2, 2006

AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

1 2 3 4 T
CHI 19 19 23 1778
MIA 25 15 21 3192

Top Performers

Chi: A. Nocioni 23 Pts, 10 Reb

Mia: D. Wade 28 Pts, 5 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Wade returns from injury to lead Heat past Bulls in Game 5

MIAMI (AP) -- Dwyane Wade raised three fingers skyward, the number of wins the Miami Heat now have in this series.

Moments later, he raised just one -- indicating how many more the Heat need to advance.

With his hip smarting and bruised from a frightening first-half tumble, and his team trailing by five in the season's biggest game, Wade returned to save the Heat's day -- and perhaps their season -- in a 92-78 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night.

"I sent word to the locker room," Shaquille O'Neal said, "that we needed him."

Wade scored 28 points, 15 of them coming after a scary stint in Miami's training room, and the Heat took a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round series.

"A little shot in the butt," Wade said, describing the painkilling shot he took. "It started kicking in after a couple minutes out there and I felt good after that."

Wade didn't expect to be able to play more than a couple of minutes after the shot, even telling some teammates his return would be brief. He didn't come out, though, until the game was decided.

"He's our guy," Heat forward James Posey said. "For him to come back out here and tough it out ... he knew how important this game was to us."

Antoine Walker scored 17 points and O'Neal, playing one day after he became a father for the sixth time, added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who can close the series out in Chicago when Game 6 is played Thursday night.

"A must-win for us," Bulls center Michael Sweetney said. "We've got to come out ready to play and play like it's our last game."

If it's not, the teams return for a winner-take-all Game 7 on Saturday night.

"The worst thing that can happen is that this thing goes to seven games and maybe we'll have him absolutely healthy," Heat coach Pat Riley said, referring to Wade. "But we're planning on trying to go up to Chicago and closing this thing out."

Andres Nocioni had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulls, who managed to shoot only 35 percent. Sweetney had 16 points and Ben Gordon added 10 for Chicago -- on 3-for-16 shooting, only slightly worse than backcourt mate Kirk Hinrich's 3-for-13 effort.

"We feel like we got good looks," Hinrich said. "I thought all my shots were going in. When they don't, you get frustrated. We've just got to find a way."

Sweetney hit a pair of free throws with 4:47 left to draw Chicago within 77-73 -- but Miami sealed it with a 15-0 run over the next four minutes.

Wade hit a 3-pointer -- the play where he raised the three fingers to the sky -- with 4:02 left, Posey added another 3-pointer a minute later, and the Bulls were done.

"They all got loose on us in the fourth," Hinrich said.

Wade's return coincided with the start of a 21-6 Miami run, which gave the Heat a 71-61 lead with 8:12 remaining.

With the Bulls mired in a 1-for-11 shooting skid, Wade -- who was carried off 2:35 before halftime and missed the first 6:10 of the third -- opened the fourth quarter with a jumper that put Miami ahead for good, then found O'Neal for an alley-oop minutes later. He closed the run with another jumper.

"I don't know how badly he was hurt," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "So no, I wasn't surprised."

Miami, which seethed after being awarded only five free throws in Game 4 in Chicago, got plenty of tries from the line in the early going of Game 5. Problem was, O'Neal couldn't convert them -- a trend that plagued the Heat, who finished 22-for-41 from the line.

O'Neal got to the line 10 times -- matching a Heat postseason one-quarter record -- in the game's first 5:10, yet missed eight of those, and that didn't even include one clank erased by a Chicago lane violation.

Still, the Heat built a nine-point lead, using a 15-4 run to build a 23-14 advantage with 1:38 left. Wade had eight points in that burst, including a two-handed slam off a missed layup by Walker -- a play Wade set up with a spinning, no-look pass.

The Heat held the lead throughout the entire second quarter, taking a 40-38 edge into intermission -- even after shooting only 37 percent in the first two periods, compared with the Bulls' 34 percent clip.

That lead seemed, at best, tenuous -- considering the Wade situation.

With about 2:45 left in the half, Wade went airborne near the basket with Sweetney coming over to help Hinrich defend the play. Wade and Sweetney made contact and the Heat guard tumbled to the court -- remaining down in obvious pain.

He rolled over, grabbing his left hamstring. No foul was called, and Wade was eventually helped into the Heat locker room, where he was diagnosed with a bruised left hip.

"Once Dwyane went down, it was a shock," Riley said. "We all were stunned. We were able to weather that storm, not knowing what was going to happen with him. We just hung in there in the third quarter and then Shaq got in foul trouble, so it seemed even worse."

Miami led by five when he left -- and was down by five when he returned.

The Bulls opened the second half with a 17-10 run, with Wade still getting treatment and as O'Neal picked up his fourth foul -- on a play where replays showed Walker, not O'Neal, fouled Sweetney with 7:01 left.

But Wade returned 71 seconds later with the Heat down 55-50, and Miami scored the next seven points -- capped by Wade's jumper with 1:53 left -- to reclaim a two-point lead, doing so as the Bulls went 4:13 without a point.

"The energy in the arena picked up a little bit," Hinrich said, "and they just ran away from us."

The lead changed hands three more times late in the period, before Wade's two free throws with 16 seconds left tied it at 61 entering the fourth -- and the Heat then opened the fourth with a 10-0 run.

And soon, they could exhale.

"We needed this win," O'Neal said.

Game notes

O'Neal made a free throw 3:28 into the game, ending an 0-for-9 drought since the start of Game 3. ... The Bulls committed six fouls in the first 6:13 -- all against O'Neal. ... Hinrich left the court briefly in the second quarter after apparently twisting an ankle. He missed about five minutes before returning. ... Heat trainer Ron Culp turned 60 Tuesday.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 78 92
FGM-FGA 25-72 (.347) 33-73 (.452)
3PM-3PA 4-16 (.250) 4-23 (.174)
FTM-FTA 24-30 (.800) 22-41 (.537)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 10-50 9-40
Assists 10 19
Turnovers 20 12
Steals 3 4
Blocks 5 8
Fast Break Points 18 9
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 29 (1/0) 25 (0/0)
Largest Lead 5 19

Top Performers

Andres Nocioni Nocioni
Points: 23
Reb: 10
Ast: 0
Stl: 0
Blk: 0
Dwyane Wade Wade
Points: 28
Reb: 5
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 1