Miami wins series 4-1 (Game 5 of 5)

Miami wins series 4-1

Game 1: Monday, May 8th
Game 2: Wednesday, May 10th
Game 3: Friday, May 12th
Game 4: Sunday, May 14th
Game 5: Tuesday, May 16th

Nets 105

(49-33, 20-21 away)

Heat 106

(52-30, 31-10 home)

8:00 PM ET, May 16, 2006

AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

1 2 3 4 T
NJ 33 21 28 23105
MIA 24 30 31 21106

Top Performers

NJ: R. Jefferson 33 Pts, 7 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Stl

Mia: A. Walker 23 Pts, 7 Reb, 4 Ast, 2 Stl

Heat scrape past Carter, Nets, advance to East finals

MIAMI (AP) -- The Heat and Nets alternated blowouts in the first two games, giving every indication these Eastern Conference semifinals could be epic.

Heat vs. potential conference finals opponents this season
Category Vs. Pistons Vs. Cavs
W-L 1-3 2-2
PPG 89.0 101.3
FG Pct. 45.6 48.0
Opp. PPG 95.3 96.5
Opp. FG Pct. 44.8 43.8

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 4-1.

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 Richard Jefferson.

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 four games.

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 Meadowlands.

-- 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 season.

"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 it away."

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 seconds left.

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 my part."

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."

O'Neal had 17 points on 8-for-10 shooting, Jason Williams scored 12, Alonzo Mourning had 11 and Payton finished with 10 for the Heat -- who have never advanced past the East finals.

"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 silenced.

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."

Game notes

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 in Israel.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 105 106
FGM-FGA 40-74 (.541) 42-75 (.560)
3PM-3PA 7-19 (.368) 7-16 (.438)
FTM-FTA 18-26 (.692) 15-29 (.517)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 3-34 7-38
Assists 21 15
Turnovers 14 14
Steals 9 6
Blocks 0 2
Fast Break Points 22 10
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 27 (0/0) 22 (1/0)
Largest Lead 12 6

Top Performers

New Jersey
Richard Jefferson Jefferson
Points: 33
Reb: 7
Ast: 5
Stl: 3
Blk: 0
Antoine Walker Walker
Points: 23
Reb: 7
Ast: 4
Stl: 2
Blk: 0