for this game

Heat bounce back, edge Nets in playoff rematch

Nov 4, 2006 - 3:28 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat did not want a repeat performance of Opening Night.

Wade overcame early foul trouble to score 17 points, including a sensational back-door runner with 86 seconds remaining, and James Posey hit two clutch 3-pointers to give the Heat a 91-85 victory over the New Jersey Nets in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference semifinal.

Shaquille O'Neal came back from a tough opener to shoot 10-of-16 from the floor for 21 points for Miami, which dismissed the Atlantic Division champions in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals en route to the 2006 NBA championship.

After receiving their championship rings and raising the title banner Tuesday, the Heat laid a stinker in front of the home crowd, dropping a 108-66 decision to the Chicago Bulls. O'Neal was limited to seven points on 3-of-10 shooting in the worst defeat by a defending champion in a season opener.

"The bad things that happen to us will only make us stronger," O'Neal said. "We have been through enough not to let anything rattle us. It was an ugly first game, but it was different for the city, different for the players.

"I wasn't into it that day for some reason. I was just very, very happy and very jolly that day. ... I have to be part of the blame for game one."

Surprisingly, New Jersey played O'Neal man-to-man and did not double down on the mammoth center.

"When they cover me one-on-one it is good for me to get as close to the basket as possible," O'Neal said. "I'm really trying to draw them in and keep my shooters involved. I try to just take two to three dribbles down there and that is what I did tonight."

Miami came out with a lot more intensity against New Jersey, holding the Nets to 39 percent shooting (30-of-77) and making the big plays down the stretch.

"That was a little bit of the team that I remember," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "After losing four games in the preseason to Detroit, San Antonio, Orlando and Houston, and then Chicago; teams we were down by 20, then 30 and then 40, I said to the team, 'We have a crisis.' The team said, 'No we just haven't started.'

"Whatever it was, we had to turn it around because it was a little bit of a crisis. We played the game tonight much harder, a lot more focused from a defensive standpoint."

Posey's desperation 25-footer as the shot clock wound down gave the Heat a 76-73 lead with 5:45 left. Gary Payton knocked down a shot from the arc off a pass with just over three minutes to play and Posey's second 3-pointer from the right corner off a feed from Wade provided an 84-80 edge with 2:05 remaining.

"In the last six minutes we wanted to give ourselves a chance to win, but two big threes by James and Gary hurt us," Nets guard Vince Carter said. "It made us have to play catch-up. It was tough. It is another step, another lesson."

"You have got to give James (Posey) a lot of credit," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "The guy hit some shots at the end of the shot clock and then he hits one in the corner."

After Nenad Krstic halved the deficit on a short jumper from the right corner, Wade made a back-door cut, took a feed from Payton and scored on a nine-foot runner from the left baseline with three seconds left on the shot clock, drawing a foul.

"That was just a great play by Gary and Dwyane, and we have seen Dwyane make those plays before," Riley said.

Wade missed the free throw, but the defense forced a 24-second violation on New Jersey's next possession. Udonis Haslem hit two free throws for an 88-82 edge with 47 seconds left.

Wade finished with five assists. He passed out of double teams to Posey and Payton to set up both for wide-open 3-pointers.

"I am trying to get my teammates involved," Wade said. "I saw my teammates and they were wide open. I am not a selfish guy. They made big shots tonight. You will see more of that out of me, more playmaking."

Payton added 14 points and five assists for Miami, which shot 46 percent (35-of-76) and held a 46-40 edge on the boards. Miami was outrebounded, 49-29, by Chicago.

While Carter kept the Nets in it with 27 points, including 11 in the final seven minutes, Richard Jefferson and Jason Kidd struggled. Jefferson shot 4-of-15 for 11 points while Kidd was 2-for-7 for nine with just three assists.

Krstic scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Despite Wade picking up his third foul with the game tied, 28-28, with 8:40 to go in the second period, Miami held tough and took a 43-41 lead into the break.

"You are thinking during the game that it is a good opportunity to make up ground," Frank said. "You never know until the game is over. Obviously it is a window of opportunity, but in a 48-minute game there are so many windows of opportunity."

Behind eight points each from O'Neal and Wade, the Heat forged a 65-62 lead through three periods.

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