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Rediff.com  » Sports » Heat beat Pistons, lead series 3-2

Heat beat Pistons, lead series 3-2

June 03, 2005 12:19 IST

An inspired Shaquille O'Neal had 20 points and five rebounds as the Miami Heat beat the Detroit Pistons 88-76 on Thursday, to move within one win of the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history.

The Heat may have paid a high price for the win, playing most of the second half without Dwyane Wade who left the game with a rib injury after crashing into the Pistons' Rasheed Wallace.

Wade was fitted with a rib brace and made a short return to the game in the fourth quarter but was clearly still in trouble.

It was not immediately clear if he would miss Game Six of the best-of-seven series on Saturday at the Palace in Auburn Hills. The Heat leads the series 3-2.

"It's a strain in the rib cage area and is very painful, he feels like he is being stabbed when he breathes," said Miami coach Stan Van Gundy. "We'll just have to wait and see."

With a big second half lead thanks to O'Neal's strong contribution, the Heat did not miss their all-star guard who had contributed 15 points, four assists and three rebounds before leaving the game.

"I just wanted to come out and play aggressive," said O'Neal, who rebounded from his disappointing 12-point effort in Game Four. "Tonight I played really aggressive.

"We don't know what his [Wade's] injury is, but we know he's a tough kid so he must have been hurting,"

Damon Jones also had 15 points while Udonis Haslem had 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Richard Hamilton had a game high 21 points and five assists for the reigning NBA champions while Chauncey Billups nailed 19.

"Their [Heat] effort was phenomenal," said Pistons coach Larry Brown. "I thought right from the get go ... their energy was a lot greater than ours.

"We didn't maybe match their energy. Our guys tried. A few of them got a little frustrated."

The Heat took control in the second quarter ending the half with an 11-0 run to go into the intermission up 53-39.

Miami kept up the pressure after the break going 4-for-4 from the field to open the third quarter. They had opened a 20-point lead with five minutes left in the frame.

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