June 16th, 2006

Series turns serious with Heat win


The Associated Press
Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade (3) shoots over Dallas Mavericks guard Devin Harris in Game 4 of the NBA finals in Miami, Thursday. Wade led the Heat to a 98-74 victory.

MIAMI (AP) — Forget about tugging on any silly cape, Jerry Stackhouse tried to take Superman’s head off.
Stackhouse’s nasty, neck-high shove sent Shaquille O’Neal flying, knocking Miami’s big man to the floor with a flagrant foul Thursday that sent a seismic shiver through these NBA finals.
Days ago, the best-of-seven series was nearly over.
Now, it’s as tight — and testy — as can be.
“It’s a series. It’s 2-2,” Dwyane Wade said, “the way we knew it was going to be. Now, it’s the best-of-three.”
Wade, delivering a worthy encore to his remarkable Game 3 comeback, scored 36 points on a sore left knee. His big buddy Shaq — smiling, throwing no-look passes and, yes, making his free throws — added 17 points with 13 rebounds as the Heat downed the Dallas Mavericks 98-74 in Game 4.
The Heat, six minutes from falling behind 0-3 in the series before being saved by Wade’s 42 points in Game 3, are now in control and take the lead with a victory in Game 5 on Sunday night at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Miami has guaranteed the series is leaving Florida and going back to Dallas, where fans are saying: What the heck happened?
The Mavericks, who won Games 1 and 2 by double digits at home, have taken a Texas two-step backward.
Dirk Nowitzki went just 2-for-14 and rolled his left ankle, and Dallas set a finals record by scoring just seven points in the fourth quarter. Beyond that, the Mavericks couldn’t stop Wade, who on the same day Michael Jordan returned to the NBA as an owner, showed again that he might be the league’s brightest young star.
Leading by nine early in the second half, the Heat pushed their lead to 17 when Wade scored six straight points and O’Neal, criticized for not dominating in Games 1, 2 or 3 despite constant double-teaming, spun on the baseline for a three-point play to make it 68-51.
Next came the play that changed the tone of this series.
On a steal and breakaway, Miami’s Jason Williams waited for a trailing O’Neal, who, as he was gathering himself for a backboard-bending dunk, was blasted by Stackhouse.
Face-first on the floor, O’Neal, who earlier drew a technical, attempted to quickly get up. But if he had any thoughts about retaliating, Wade made sure the big fella didn’t. Wade pushed down on his teammate as players on both teams exchanged dirty looks and dirtier words.
Stackhouse, who may face an NBA suspension for the blow, insists he wasn’t trying to hurt O’Neal, who later called himself “the other son of Jorel, Superman.”
“It was a hard foul,” he said. “I mean, he was going to the basket. When Shaq is going to the basket, we want to try and make him go to the free-throw line and earn it. It was just a hard play.”
O’Neal didn’t have a problem with Stackhouse’s blindside.
“My daughters tackle me harder when I come home,” he said. “I’m one of the last players from the old school, you just have to take a hard foul like that and keep on moving. It actually felt pretty good to get hit like that. Thank you, Jerry. Appreciate it.”
O’Neal made two free throws — he finished 5-of-10 from the line — and two by Wade gave Miami a 20-point lead with 6:23 left in the period.
The Mavericks used an 8-0 run to close within 78-67 entering the fourth, but Miami finally put Dallas away with seven straight points, the last coming on Antoine Walker’s 3-pointer with 4:21 left that made it 92-72.
That’s when Heat fans began stripping the white covers off their seat cushions and celebrated Miami’s 100th playoff game in style. Less than a minute later, Wade came out to a thundering ovation and cheered as Heat coach Pat Riley cleared his bench.
Wade picked up where he left off in Game 3, scoring 24 points in the first half as the Heat opened a 54-44 lead. He wasn’t Flash — the superhero nickname he got from O’Neal — as much as he was Finesse, choosing to shoot jumpers rather than go airborne to the hole.
Wade didn’t appear to be slowed by the knee injury in the first quarter, scoring 14 points — nine on jump shots — as the Heat opened a 30-25 lead after one despite playing most of the period with O’Neal sitting on the bench with two fouls.
Only twice did Wade, wearing pads over both knees, dare drive to the basket on Dallas’ defense. Instead, he hung around the perimeter and took aim from the outside, showing range the Mavericks once doubted.
“I think they said I can’t shoot, right?” Wade said. “So why wouldn’t they contest my shots? I can’t shoot.”
Notes: The previous NBA finals record for fewest points scored in a quarter was nine, done by Utah against Chicago in 1998 and New Jersey against San Antonio in 2003. ... This is the 25th time the finals have been tied 2-2. Of the 24 previous times, the Game 5 winner has won the series 18 times. ... Miami is 10-1 at home in these playoffs and 51-49 all-time. ... Mavericks owner Mark Cuban feels the NBA should be able to prevent any clock malfunctions like the two that cost Dallas nearly 4 seconds in Game 3. “It should have been caught and it should have been corrected,” he said. “Would it have made a difference? Who knows?” ... It’s no secret that Wade and Cleveland’s LeBron James are close friends. James has been text messaging Wade with encouragement during the series. “We’re two of the front-running guys that a lot of people talk about,” Wade said, “myself and him and Carmelo (Anthony) and the other young guys in the 2003 draft. I mean, he (James) is younger than me — well, that’s what they say.”


Stickers invading Cortland

There will an invasion of lacrosse players as the 2006 season of the Brine Upstate Lacrosse League will begin Saturday at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
The opening day is officially known as the Shane Lynch Memorial, named in honor of the late LeMoyne College men’s lacrosse coach.
“Beginning at 8:30 a.m., over 130 teams will converge on Cortland throughout the day to begin play for our 14th season,” said John McNerney, president of the Hom-Cort Lacrosse Club that serves as one of the event hosts. “The Stadium Complex at SUNY Cortland offers the ability to play all our opening games in one day, utilizing the complex’s two Sprinturf fields plus seven adjacent natural grass fields.”


Walks help Post 465 pull out late victory at Groton

GROTON — Three consecutive walks in the top of the seventh inning forced home the tying and winning runs as Homer Post 465 evened its record at 2-2 with a come-from-behind 7-6 American Legion baseball victory over Groton Thursday at Ross Field.
Tristan Hartnett drew a two-out walk and Nick Triolo singled in the seventh before Paul Bartleson (2-for-3) walked to load the bases. Jon Galeotti walked to force in Hartnett with the tying run. Tim Riehlman worked a free pass as well to force in Triolo with the eventual winning run.
Groton opened scoring in the bottom of the second inning as two walks were followed by a Josh Duso (3-for-3) two-run double. Duso scored the third run of the inning on a throwing error. The home team added another run in the third after a hit batsman and another throwing error.


Woods is facing major problems

AP National Writer

MAMARONECK (AP) — Tiger Woods was 9-over par with six holes left in his second round Friday, 10 shots out of the U.S. Open lead and in jeopardy of missing the cut for the first time in the majors as a pro.
After starting his second round steadily on the back nine with four straight pars, Woods made double-bogey 6s on Nos. 14 and 16.
That ballooned his score to 10-over par, and even after coming back with a birdie and par on 17 and 18, he was 10 shots behind leader Steve Stricker. Stricker was 1 under through 16 holes, and if Woods lets the margin grow any wider, his stay at Winged Foot will almost certainly end early.