Miami take 2-1 lead
Auburn Hills, May 30:
Instead of focusing on the Miami Heat, the Detroit Pistons devoted their attention to the referees. The champions weren’t happy, and they let their disgust beat them. On a night when Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal were better in the first half than they were in the final two quarters, the Heat didn’t need either of them to be the key factor in their 113-104 victory over Detroit for a 2-1 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. Instead, Miami let the Pistons self-destruct. Miami Heat scored 11 points from the foul line during a 13-4 run that put the Heat ahead for good midway through the fourth quarter. And the Detroit Pistons lost control of their emotions to such a degree that Rasheed Wallace and Chauncey Billups were hit with technical fouls in the fourth quarter for screaming in disgust at the officials. Wade scored 21 of his 36 points in the first half, getting limited in the final 24 minutes by Lindsey Hunter’s defence and some foul trouble of his own.
But Wade was able to hit a jumper over Tayshaun Prince with 2:46 left, shortly after checking back in for the final time, to give Miami Heat a 102-93 lead that made the crowd begin scurrying for the exits. O’Neal finished with 24 points for the Heat, and Eddie Jones had 19. O’Neal made his first six foul shots of the fourth quarter and finished 8-for-12 from the line.
Richard Hamilton led Detroit with 33, while Billups struggled from the field by shooting 6-for-19, and the Pistons missed 15 of their 43 free throws. Detroit was whistled for 33 fouls to Miami’s 29, and the Pistons went to the line 54 times to the Heat’s 43. But there was several moments that infuriated the Pistons and their fans, including a pair of very late whistles that sent Wade to the line in the first half, and numerous non-calls on the inside. The Game 4 is scheduled for Tuesday night.