MIAMI (AP)—The sellout crowd in Miami serenaded Shaquille O’Neal with another “M-V-P” chant.
Perhaps it should have been directed to Shaq’s superstar teammate.
Dwyane Wade scored 31 points, including a critical three-point play with 1:05 left, and added a career-high 15 assists Tuesday night, helping Miami stay perfect in these playoffs with a 108-102 win over the Washington Wizards.
“It’s kind of like pick your poison,” Wade said. “You can either let me shoot or you can give somebody a layup. And tonight they came up on me, so some other guys got layups.”
Miami leads the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-0. Thursday’s Game 3 is at Washington, where the Heat have won 11 times in 14 tries.
Eddie Jones added 21 points, O’Neal scored 16, Damon Jones had 14 and Udonis Haslem had a 14-point, 13-rebound effort for Miami—which won despite 20 turnovers, an 18-7 deficit in offensive rebounds and a 22-for-40 showing at the foul line.
“We didn’t take care of anything that we wanted to take care of,” Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. “And we won the game.”
Antawn Jamison, playing with tendinitis in his right knee, had a playoff career-high 32 points for Washington. Gilbert Arenas added 28 for the Wizards, but the third member of their high-scoring trio, Larry Hughes, missed his first 11 shots and finished with 15 points on 5-for-17 shooting.
“You need to take it to another level and find a way to get it done,” Jamison said.
Washington fell into an 0-2 hole in the first round against Chicago, and became the ninth team in NBA history to recover from such a deficit. That’s why the mood in the Wizards’ locker room was upbeat.
“You’ve got to get smacked in the face before you toughen up,” Arenas said. “They’re beating us down right now. But we’re not afraid. We’re going to keep fighting.”
O’Neal had seven rebounds to go with his 6-for-11 performance, and continued his silence; he did not take questions for the third consecutive day.
Wade made 10 of 15 shots and grabbed seven rebounds. In the first three quarters, Miami had 29 baskets, 22 either made by Wade or set up by his passes.
And the Heat needed Wade to be especially sharp because the Wizards simply wouldn’t go away.
“He is a tornado out there,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. “He is a major force.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wade became the fifth player in NBA history with at least 30 points, 15 assists and five rebounds in a playoff game. The others? Magic Johnson, Jerry West, Walt Frazier and Oscar Robertson.
Jamison hit a floater from 12 feet with 1:24 left to bring Washington within five, but Wade answered with a three-point play 19 seconds later. He drove past Arenas, darted left, drew contact from Jamison, changed hands with the ball and scored.
The free throw gave Miami a 105-97 lead—and the Heat escaped.
“We have ourselves a chance,” Jordan said. “And I would think that if we play that hard, maybe a little bit better, then we’ll have a chance in our place the next two games.”
Not including a buzzer-beating try to end the first quarter from halfcourt that barely missed, bouncing just off the front of the rim, Wade made his first six shots.
His first conventional miss came with 1:08 left in the half, but he atoned for it seconds later, stripping Juan Dixon of the ball and driving for a dunk that put Miami, 6-0 this postseason, ahead 54-45.
Even more impressive than his shooting, though, was the way Wade set up teammates. He had assists on five of Miami’s first six baskets, had six setups in the first quarter and nine by halftime—two more than the entire Wizards roster had combined, and matching Washington’s total output in Game 1.
“We didn’t play well. We’re fortunate to get this win,” Haslem said. “We’re definitely going to have to correct things at their house if we’re going to get wins. It’s going to be a fight. We know that.”
The game resembled the series opener during the first half, with Miami shooting substantially better than Washington (60.6 percent for the Heat, 39.1 percent for the Wizards), yet the period ended with the Heat holding just a seven-point lead because the Wizards found other ways to stay close.
Still, the outcome rarely seemed in doubt.
Hughes finally made a shot—two, actually—early in the fourth quarter that brought Washington within 82-75 before Miami scored seven straight points and pulled away. Eddie Jones’ fifth 3-pointer of the game helped fuel the burst.
Thomas appeared to suffer the injury with 6:55 left in the half. He grabbed an offensive rebound and scored, yet immediately began grimacing and was quickly ushered into the locker room. He did not return, and Jordan said Thomas may miss the remainder of the series.
Eddie Jones was 5-for-5 in the first quarter, staking Miami to a 30-20 lead. … Miami’s previous franchise record for playoff assists was 13 (Anthony Carter, 2000). … Washington had 15 of the game’s first 16 offensive rebounds. … Jamison grabbed his sore right knee and flexed the joint repeatedly in the opening minutes, but played all but one minute in the first half.