MIAMI (AP) -- The Heat and Nets alternated blowouts in the first
two games, giving every indication these Eastern Conference
semifinals could be epic.
Ah, but Dwyane Wade and Miami simply saw no need for unnecessary
drama. They made all the biggest plays over the rest of the series,
right until the very last second of New Jersey's season.
Wade stole Jason Kidd's inbounds pass as the last second ticked
off Tuesday night, depriving the Nets of one last shot to extend
their year and sealing the Heat's 106-105 victory to win the series
Miami is off to the East finals for the second straight year.
"With one second left, all you want to do is make it tough,"
Wade said. "And I was able to get there, get my hand on the ball,
and that was all she wrote."
Wade threw the ball into the stands as time expired. The Heat
will face either Detroit or Cleveland in the next series, which
won't begin until at least Sunday.
"We did what we wanted to do," Shaquille O'Neal said. "We're
focused now on eight more wins."
The Heat rallied from 12 points down, the biggest postseason
comeback in franchise history. Antoine Walker had 23 points, Wade
added 21 on 7-for-19 shooting, and four other Heat players were in
double figures to offset a brilliant effort by Vince Carter and
Carter and Jefferson each scored 33 points for the Nets, who won
the first game of the series.
"We felt we could come in and compete with this team," Carter
said. "Playoff basketball is another whole level."
It's a level Wade and his mates handled with aplomb in the last
New Jersey took control early in Game 1 and rolled to a 100-88
win, and the Heat evened the series by jumping to a 25-4 lead on
the way to winning Game 2.
The next three games were classics. And Wade found a way to
control each at the end.
-- In Game 3, the Nets led 64-56 in the third quarter when Wade
returned from getting a Carter elbow in the face. He scored 15
points in the final 4½ minutes to seal Miami's win at the
-- In Game 4, he found Gary Payton for a clinching 3-pointer in
the final moments..
-- And then Tuesday, Wade beat a double-team by finding Walker
for a 3-pointer with 1:56 left to put Miami up by six before
getting his arm in to knock away New Jersey's final touch of the
"Dwyane just made a play," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "He
just went for the ball. The ball was in the area, he just went for
the ball, got a long arm on it, and that was it. Just had to knock
Carter, who'd scored three points in the previous 17 minutes,
had three baskets from in close over a 90-second stretch toward the
end, including a dunk that drew the Nets within 106-105 with 29.1
And after Payton missed a 16-footer, the Nets corralled the
rebound and called timeout with 1.4 seconds left. But thanks to
Wade, they never got off a shot.
"We've got to be able to get a shot in that situation. I let my
guys down," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "That's a poor job on
The Heat became the sixth team in 20 seasons to lose the first
game of a playoff series, then win the next four to advance.
"It's just great that we could finish it," Riley said. "I
knew it would be the hardest close-out."
"We're a team," forward Udonis Haslem said. "Like I've said
all year, we've been through ups, we've been through downs,
criticism, injuries, fines, ejections, all that kind of stuff. And
through all that, we stuck together on the inside."
Kidd had 20 points, eight assists and six rebounds for the Nets,
who got 14 points from Lamond Murray.
"It is very disappointing," Jefferson said. "But they were
the better team."
Fighting for their season, the Nets came out looking very much
like the better team.
On Miami's first play, when Kidd intercepted Williams' pass near
midcourt and set up Carter for a 3-pointer. Carter added a
conventional three-point play 25 seconds later, Jefferson followed
with a 3-pointer, and the Nets had a quick 9-2 lead.
The Nets' big three -- Carter, Jefferson and Kidd -- scored 21 of
the team's first 22 points, helping build a 33-24 edge after one
quarter. Carter had 13 points in the period for New Jersey, which
had the Heat in a 12-point hole early in the second quarter.
"We didn't come out with the energy that we normally do,"
O'Neal said. "But we just stayed focused."
Miami rallied, somehow doing so with O'Neal and Wade largely
O'Neal picked up two fouls in a 57-second span -- including an
offensive foul called by his refereeing nemesis, Bob Delaney -- and
departed with 7:19 left in the half after shooting 6-for-7. And
Wade was nothing like his usual self in the opening two quarters,
going 1-for-9 and scoring only four points before intermission.
Instead, Walker and Payton led the charge, combining for 20
points on 8-for-11 shooting in the second quarter. Miami came all
the way back to build a three-point lead late in the period before
Murray's right-corner 3-pointer with 0.2 seconds sent the teams
into the break tied at 54.
Murray couldn't do it again as the third quarter ended, though,
misfiring as Miami entered the final period with an 85-82 lead.
Jefferson had 15 points on 6-for-7 shooting in the third
quarter, a back-and-forth period where the lead changed hands four
times and the game was tied five others.
The Nets got within two twice midway in the final period, then
tied it when Jefferson hit a jumper with 5:11 remaining. But they
never got the lead again.
"It was a great game, went down to the end like every game has
been," Wade said. "And we found a way."
Neither O'Neal nor Wade scored in Miami's 30-point second
quarter. ... The Nets' season has ended with four-game losing
streaks five times since 2000. ... All eight of Payton's
second-quarter points came in a span of 2:19. ... A pregame moment
of silence was observed for Daniel Wultz, 16, a Heat fan from
Weston who died Sunday from injuries suffered in a suicide bombing