Heat beat Detroit despite injury to Wade

Agence France Presse

Miami, June 3:

The Miami Heat moved within one game of reaching the National Basketball Association finals on Thursday, but they may have to go the rest of the way without Dwyane Wade. The Heat played nearly the entire fourth quarter without the injured Wade, but still cruised to an 88-76 victory over defending NBA champions Detroit to take a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. A rising star who has carried the Heat in the playoffs in just his second season, Wade suffered what was called a strained rib muscle with 5:08 left in the third quarter. The All-Star guard scored 15 points on 4-of-9 shooting before leaving. When Wade left the game for the first time, the Heat already had built a commanding 67-47 lead. The Pistons took advantage of Wade’s absence, using a 13-6 run to pull within striking distance entering the fourth.

However, the Heat led by double digits the entire fourth quarter and moved within one win of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time in their 17-year history. O’Neal scored 20 points, Damon Jones 14 and Udonis Haslem added 14 and 13 rebounds for the Heat. Richard Hamilton scored 21 and Chauncey Billups added 19 for Detroit. The winner of the series will face Western Conference champions San Antonio in the NBA finals beginning on June 9.

NBA greats pay tribute to Mikan

MIAMI: The NBA on Thursday mourned the passing of George Mikan, the first superstar in a league now often defined by its skilled, charismatic players. Mikan, 80, had been battling diabetes and kidney failure and died on Wednesday night. On Thursday a moment of silence was held in his memory before the Miami-Detroit match. “George Mikan was the model for all big men that followed him,” Miami Heat president Pat Riley said. And the player who currently defines the role of big man in the NBA, Miami’s Shaquille O’Neal, offered his own tribute. “I knew who he was. I knew what he did. Without Mikan, there would be no me,” O’Neal said. — AFP