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
"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
If it's not, the teams return for a winner-take-all Game 7 on
"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
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
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
That lead seemed, at best, tenuous -- considering the Wade
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
Miami led by five when he left -- and was down by five when he
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
And soon, they could exhale.
"We needed this win," O'Neal said.
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.