CHICAGO (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal took a seat near his locker,
wearing a gray vest and slacks, a tie and pinstriped shirt. He
looked sharp during the game, too.
The second-seeded Heat won the best-of-seven series 4-2 and will
meet the third-seeded New Jersey Nets in the Eastern Conference
semifinals. Miami swept the Nets in the first round last year.
O'Neal had 30 points and 20 rebounds while staying out of foul
trouble as Miami won its first playoff series against the Bulls and
its first postseason game in Chicago.
"I knew coming into the game that I was going to my finesse
game," said O'Neal, who was 13-of-24 from the field. "I wasn't
really trying to use the power because I was going to go to my jump
hooks, turnarounds, fadeaways. I came in with the mind-set I was
going to stay out of foul trouble -- don't help, don't commit any
Wade scored 23 points, and although he spent more time on the
perimeter than usual, he was 7-of-12 from the field, including
2-of-3 on 3-pointers.
Wade injured his hip late in the first half of Game 5 on
Tuesday, when he landed awkwardly after having his layup blocked by
Michael Sweetney. He was injected with a painkiller at halftime,
returned midway through the third quarter and scored 15 of his
game-high 28 points to lead the Heat to a 92-78 victory.
After shooting just under 35 percent in Game 5, the Bulls missed
11 of their first 12 shots Thursday and finished 31-of-75 (41
percent). They were 10-for-30 on 3-pointers.
The Heat finished 38-of-77 from the field, including 11-of-25 on
"For a team that's supposed to hang its hat on defense, we just
did a pretty poor job this series," Hinrich said.
Trailing 64-48 early in the third quarter, the Bulls scored
seven straight points, capped by Nocioni's transition basket that
brought the crowd to its feet. But after a timeout, O'Neal went
1-of-2 from the line and jammed in a miss by Wade to make it 67-55.
The Bulls pulled within 97-88 on Gordon's three-point play with
4:58 left, but Haslem converted a three-point play after a miss by
Posey at the shot-clock buzzer, and then hit a jumper. A steal and
layup by Posey made it a 16-point game. O'Neal punctuated things
with a dunk that made it 106-88 with 3:06 left.
But from the start, this was a different Shaq from the one who
had struggled the previous few games.
"I told them, 'Just give me the ball," he said. "They knew
what I wanted to do tonight. They knew I wasn't going to be in foul
trouble. I wanted to close these guys out."
The Bulls could not stop it.
"He was definitely aggressive out there," Bulls center Tyson
Chandler said. "He kind of took the game into his hands. He was
probably the liveliest I've seen him the whole series. He played
like Shaq tonight."
The Heat were 0-9 in postseason games in Chicago and had lost
three previous playoff series against the Bulls. Nothing about this
series was easy.
Haslem tossed his mouthpiece toward an official in Game 1 and
served a one-game suspension. Posey knocked down Hinrich in Game 3
and was suspended for Game 4. O'Neal couldn't avoid foul trouble in
the first five games and got fined $25,000 after criticizing the
officiating in Game 3. And teammates Gary Payton and Wade exchanged
words near the end of the first half of Game 4.
This time, O'Neal followed his father's advice.
Phil Harrison suggested his son ditch the power game, and O'Neal
did, to a degree. He mixed finesse and power, producing a collage
of turnarounds and jumpers and drop-steps and dunks.
Early in the third quarter, he took a power dribble across the
lane, stopped and -- like a tennis player taking a backhand shot --
flicked the ball in.
"No one can really bang with Shaq," Wade said. "You have to
create somebody. I mean this guy is the eighth wonder of the
New Jersey took three of four from the Heat in the regular
season. ... Miami F Antoine Walker and Bulls coach Scott Skiles
exchanged words after the first half and received technical fouls.
"It wasn't anything major; that's why (the referee) gave us double
techs," Walker said. "I like Scott Skiles, I go work out with the
Bulls all the time so I apologize if I offended him or anything
like that. It wasn't anything personal." ... Chicago Bears safety
Chris Harris was escorted from his seat behind the Miami bench
early in the fourth quarter after an exchange with Heat C Alonzo
Mourning. Harris and cornerback Nathan Vasher had front-row seats,
while White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and coach Harold Baines were
five rows back. The White Sox's Joe Crede, Mark Buehrle, A.J.
Pierzynski and Jon Garland were also at the game, as was Chicago
Sky coach and former NBA great Dave Cowens.