Dwyane Wade rose to the occasion again with 36 points and
Shaquille O'Neal had a solid performance with 17 points and 13
rebounds Thursday evening when the Miami Heat downed the Dallas
Mavericks 98-74 in the NBA Finals after four games.
O'Neal also was a dominant force in the middle and part of a
Miami defense that suffocated Dirk Nowitzki into a 2-for-14
James Posey added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Heat, who
limited Dallas to 31.6 percent shooting and an NBA Finals
record-low seven points in the last quarter while the Heat shot
51.5 percent from the field.
Jason Terry scored 17 points for Dallas while Nowitzki had 16
points and nine rebounds. Jerry Stackhouse also scored 16 for the
Mavs and was the centerpiece of a rough foul on O'Neal in the
The Heat were coming off a 98-96 victory at home on Tuesday
behind 42 points and 13 rebounds from Wade, and now the Heat have a
chance to move ahead in the series between the two first-time
participants in the NBA Finals.
The Heat were in front 68-51 at that juncture. Miami's Antoine
Walker received a technical foul for arguing and Stackhouse hit the
free throw with 6:29 left. However, O'Neal sank both of his foul
shots and the Heat extended to a 76-57 lead on a thunderous dunk by
O'Neal with 4:13 left in the quarter.
The Mavs cut the deficit to 78-67 going into the fourth, but
couldn't get closer than 10 points the rest of the way.
A three-point play by Devin Harris had Dallas within 80-70, but
the Mavericks went ice cold from the field in the last 12 minutes
to the tune of 2-for-18.
O'Neal hit two free throws after Harris' points to begin a 16-2
run for the Heat.
Dallas shot 3-of-22 from three-point range and was out rebounded
Nowitzki turned his left ankle on a three-point try early in the
"They are wrapping him up," Mavericks head coach Avery Johnson
said of Miami's defense on Nowitzki. "They are putting a blanket
over him and he's going to have to get that blanket off of him.
We've had certain demonstrations of how to do it. Now it's just a
matter of willpower."
Wade shook off a knee injury he suffered in Game 3 and literally
took over the first half of Thursday's game. He had 24 points by
halftime, as the Heat overcame early foul trouble to O'Neal and
Udonis Haslem to grab a 54-44 lead at the break.
Game 5 is scheduled for Sunday at American Airlines Arena.
(Xinhua News Agency June 17, 2006)