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Wade's 41 points help Heat force Game 7 with Hawks

The Sports Network

5/1/2009 11:37:24 PM

Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Dwyane Wade fought off back spasms and scored 41 points, lifting Miami to a 98-72 blowout over Atlanta, sending their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series to a deciding seventh game.

Michael Beasley notched 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Heat, who bounced back from a 106-91 loss on Wednesday.

Miami center Jermaine O'Neal sat out to a concussion he suffered in Game 5 after being elbowed by Atlanta's Zaza Pachulia, but Joel Anthony started in his place and contributed six points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

James Jones chipped in 11 points for the Heat, but Wade was the reason for Miami's pure dominance on Friday. He went 11-of-23 from the field and missed just one of his 17 foul shots.

"He was a titan tonight," said Heat coach Erik Spoelstra. "He really set the tone starting yesterday in our film session. He had his game face on today."

Mike Bibby scored 20 for the Hawks, who remain one victory away from winning a postseason series for the first time since 1999. The Hawks last won a playoff series in a best-of-five, first-round encounter with Detroit 10 years ago and will try for a best-of-seven triumph for the first time since 1970. Atlanta notched its first road playoff win since 1997 by capturing Game 4 on Monday, but fell behind by 14 after one quarter in this game and never recovered.

Joe Johnson and Flip Murray each had 13 points for the Hawks, who were without forward Al Horford (sprained ankle). Forward Marvin Williams was originally expected to miss the contest due to a sprained wrist that caused him to sit out the previous three contests, but he entered late in the first quarter and finished with zero points in nearly five minutes of court time.

Game 7 is Sunday at 1 p.m. (et) with the winner advancing to play Cleveland.

The Hawks are 2-8 all-time in Game 7 situations, having lost the last six such contests. Their last Game 7 win came April 1, 1961 when the franchise was located in St. Louis. That was a victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

"The positive side of all this is we put ourselves in this position," said Hawks coach Mike Woodson. "We can go back home and try to wrap it up. That's our goal."

The Heat led 51-42 at the half and then exploded for a 16-2 surge to begin the third. Wade was awesome, nailing back-to-back three-pointers to close the flurry.

"I think this was our best game as a team so far, and I also think Atlanta played their best game during Game 5," said Wade. "Game 7 is going to be a good one, I'm looking forward to it."

It was 78-56 going to the fourth and he scored 12 in a row at one juncture of the fourth quarter. That included a powerful jam and also an acrobatic one- handed push shot in the lane.

"They jumped on us early again," said Bibby. "We gave it away in the third quarter. We let it get away and we got beat in other places."

Wade was also a force defensively, racing down court to block a seemingly easy Murray layup.

Beasley's jumper with nearly five minutes left pushed the lead to 30 at 94-64.

"I think whenever adversity strikes us, we rise to the occasion," said Miami's Jamaal Magloire. "Dwyane had an exceptional game. Hat's off to Joel Anthony for coming in there and rebounding and scoring like he did. Our energy was consistent the whole game."

Bibby's three-pointer gave Atlanta an 8-7 edge, but that was the Hawks' only lead of the night.

Jones countered with a three-ball and after the Hawks tied it, Mario Chalmers drilled a shot from beyond the arc.

Wade emphatically took the game into his own hands in the latter stages of the opening quarter, scoring Miami's final 10 points of the period. His jumper in the waning seconds boosted the Heat to a 32-18 lead.

Miami continued to hold a double-digit lead for most of the second, although Johnson's short jumper brought the visitors within 43-35 with nearly 3 1/2 minutes left.

Game Notes: This was Wade's fifth career playoff game of at least 40 points...Friday's game had a total of eight technical fouls...The Hawks shot 37 percent from the field...Josh Smith had 10 rebounds for Atlanta...Every game in this series has been decided by double digits. The last time a seven-game set had all seven contests decided by 10 or more points was in the 1970 Western Conference semifinals between the LA Lakers and Phoenix Suns.