O'Neal bounces back for Heat
"We just had a period of getting refocused," he said. "It sort of felt like [making regular-season adjustments], but we are at a different stage of the season. Tonight, we're more relaxed."
The rookie proved prophetic as the Heat pulled a 180 and evened this suddenly interesting series with a 108-93 (
"That's why you don't read newspapers or listen to talk shows," O'Neal said.
The Heat ran a lot of their offense through O'Neal, according to coach
"We know what we are going to get out of Dwyane," said Heat forward
O'Neal spent extra time on the court before the game working with assistant
"I know when I'm healthy I can score on anyone," he said. "Right now, it is team defense, rebounding and doing what I can on offense."
For all of O'Neal's assistance, however, it was No. 3 who did the damage to a Hawks team that simply could not defend the Heat after putting together a near-flawless defensive effort in Game 1. Wade stretched the Heat's lead from six to 13 by scoring Miami's final 13 points of the first half on a series of bombs, then sealed it in the fourth with his bank shot over
"Just like everybody in the building, I'm not going to tell a story," Wade said. "I was shocked [it went in] too."
Wade had six of the Heat's 15 three-pointers, and
"We played desperate tonight in terms of how we defended," Hawks coach
The Heat had built a 41-35 lead thanks to improved defense and rebounding, but Wade pushed that advantage to another level when he exploded for 13 straight points in the final four minutes of the half by draining three three-pointers and a long two in the face of
The Heat eclipsed their Game 1 point total with 8:10 remaining in the third quarter on a Wade three-pointer.
Spirit, Atlanta's live hawk mascot, caught the first few minutes of the game perched atop the Heat's basket. Normally, the hawk flies down from the upper deck from one trainer to another prior to introductions. On Wednesday, he flew to the scoreboard, then flew around before settling on the hoop. Before a jump ball at the 8:38 mark, the hawk finally flew to its trainer and was taken off the floor. "It's hard to play with your back to that hawk on the backboard," Wade said. ... O'Neal conducted his postgame interviews at his locker in Indiana Pacers shorts, the team he played with for eight years.
When you haven't won a seven-game series since 1970, nothing is going to be easy. The Hawks have lost home-court advantage as the series shifts to Miami for Game 3 on Saturday, but when you look at the two games, they still have the more balanced team and the ability to score much easier baskets than the Heat. Miami is shooting outside shots, while the Hawks are scoring in the paint and at the free-throw line.
"We missed a lot of open threes the other night," Spoelstra said. "They went in tonight and they made us look good. If they miss, you tend to look horrible."
If O'Neal can continue to do some damage at the offensive end, the Heat stand a chance, especially against a Hawks team that has been ordinary on the road this year (16-25). But the feeling here is the Hawks are still going to advance.