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Wade, Heat outlast Wizards, clinch division title

Apr 12, 2007 - 5:13 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- While Dwyane Wade returned to form offensively, Alonzo Mourning sparked another celebration for the Miami Heat with his work on the other end of the court.

Wade collected 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds but Mourning preserved the lead with a crucial block in the waning seconds as the Heat clinched the Southeast Division title with a 85-82 victory over the shorthanded Washington Wizards.

Antoine Walker had 19 points and seven rebounds for Miami, which has been the only winner in the division's three-year history.

"(Winning the division title) is great," Wade said. "It just shows, first of all, this is the NBA. You've got to keep playing no matter what. When it's looking dark, you just keep playing. That's what our team did when I was out.

"We accomplished one thing that a lot of teams, coming into the season, want to accomplish. We have won the division, now our main objective is to get everybody healthy going into the playoffs."

The Heat (43-36) moved 3 1/2 games ahead of the second-place Wizards (39-39) to secure the title.

"We wanted to win the division," Washington forward Jarvis Hayes said. "But now that it is over with, we just have to end the season on a positive note going into the playoffs."

Wade missed six weeks with a dislocated shoulder but decided to rehabilitate the injury rather than have season-ending surgery. He made his return this week in a home-and-home series against the lowly Charlotte Bobcats - looking rusty en route to two losses.

But on Wednesday, Wade looked more comfortable driving the ball into traffic, shooting 6-of-11 from the field and asserting himself as an effective playmaker. However, Mourning bailed out Miami with his signature defensive effort.

"I feel like my game is coming back," Wade said. "If I can just stop turning the ball over, I'll be all right. It's coming back. I'm glad I came back two games before so I can get all the rust out and go into the playoffs ready."

After Wade nailed 1-of-2 free throws to make it 84-82 with 29 seconds left, Mourning helped out on the perimeter, swatting Antonio Daniels' 3-pointer into the stands with eight seconds left - and one on the shot clock.

On the ensuing sequence, Antawn Jamison was stripped by Heat swingman Eddie Jones as the shot clock expired.

"This has been the story for the last three or four games," Hayes said. "We play good for 3 1/2 quarters. When it gets down to the last couple of minutes the other team makes an extra play, gets a stop, and makes a key bucket down the stretch. They just made the plays and we didn't."

Mourning had nine points on 4-of-5 shooting and five blocks.

Brendan Haywood had 14 points and 10 rebounds for Washington, which continued to play without All-Stars Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler.

"Being close doesn't count for much except in horseshoes and hand grenades," Haywood said. "We have been close in all our games since (Butler and Arenas) have been out. We just need to continue to work hard, continue to fight for each other and believe in what we do."

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