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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Heat beat Mavs 95-92

Jeff Haynes/AFP--Getty Images
You lose, Cuban

Heat Beats Mavericks to Win First Championship

Published: June 21, 2006

DALLAS, June 20 — Bathed in the spotlight that followed his every step, Dwyane Wade did not blink. He moved in a zone of his own all night, steadily driving his Miami Heat toward a championship and casting a long shadow on the dumbfounded Dallas Mavericks.

And even when the Mavericks started pushing their way too late back into Game 6 and back into an N.B.A. finals that Wade had already defined, Miami's superstar was there to seal the game.

When Jason Terry's 3-point attempt to send the game into overtime bounced off the rim, it fell into Wade's hands. He jumped up, grabbed the rebound and threw the ball 50 feet into the air, unleashing a roar into the stunned American Airlines Center.

Wade, the most valuable player in the finals, scored 36 points, leading the Heat to a 95-92 victory that gave him and the franchise its first championship.

Wade gave Coach Pat Riley, who took over for Stan Van Gundy in December, his first title in 18 years and allowed Shaquille O'Neal, who had an off-night, to celebrate his fourth. And there was the veteran center Alonzo Mourning blocking shots with the ferocity of a man denied a championship for too long, but given a second chance on a career with a kidney transplant.

The Heat took advantage of their chances, winning four straight games after dropping the first two in Dallas. With each game, Wade kept improving and the Mavericks kept unraveling.

Ahead by 14 points in the first quarter and by 9 in the second, the Mavericks saw Wade steal the championship trophy out from under them.

With under 26 seconds to play, the Mavericks made a strange play indicative of their confusion. Dallas's own superstar, Dirk Nowitzki, passed to center Erick Dampier, who had rolled off a pick into the lane. Dampier bobbled the ball and Wade collected it. He made two free throws that gave the Heat its margin of victory.

The Heat took a 71-68 lead going into the fourth quarter. At first it seemed as if Josh Howard would provide the lasting picture of a disheveled, embarrassed Dallas team.

Howard, the player who had mistakenly called Dallas' last timeout near the end of Game 5, dropped his shorts unabashedly while O'Neal was at the free-throw line. Howard readjusted the wrap on his thighs, pulled up his pants and then, as O'Neal missed the second foul shot, committed a lane violation. O'Neal, given another chance, made his first free throw of the night.

The Mavs went through an 0-for-10 shooting drought, but finished the third period riding Nowitzki's momentum. Would it be enough with Wade on the court?

Mark Cuban, the vocal owner of the Mavericks, held his head in his hands and waved his arms in disgust with every foul Wade drew. One first-half call in particular seemed questionable when Howard stepped far away from a driving Wade. Unlike the Mavericks, who began to shrink away from the basket and from contact, Wade thrived.

I take no small pleasure in seeing that spoiled brat Cuban embarass himself while watching his team lose.

posted by Steve @ 1:13:00 AM

1:13:00 AM

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