MIAMI – The sellout crowd in Miami serenaded Shaquille O’Neal with another “M-V-P” chant.
Perhaps it should have been directed to Shaq’s superstar teammate.
Dwyane Wade scored 31 points, including a critical three-point play with 1 minute, 5 seconds left, and added a career-high 15 assists Tuesday night, helping Miami stay perfect in the playoffs with a 108-102 win over the Washington Wizards.
“It’s kind of like pick your poison,” Wade said. “You can either let me shoot or you can give somebody a layup. And tonight they came up on me, so some other guys got layups.”
Miami leads the Eastern Conference semifinal series 2-0. Thursday’s Game 3 is at Washington, where the Heat have won 11 times in 14 tries.
Eddie Jones added 21 points, O’Neal scored 16, Damon Jones had 14 and Udonis Haslem had a 14-point, 13-rebound effort for Miami – which won despite 20 turnovers, an 18-7 deficit in offensive rebounds and a 22-for-40 showing at the free-throw line.
“We didn’t take care of anything that we wanted to take care of,” Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. “And we won the game.”
Antawn Jamison, playing with tendinitis in his right knee, had a playoff career-high 32 points for Washington. Gilbert Arenas added 28 for the Wizards, but the third member of their high-scoring trio, Larry Hughes, missed his first 11 shots and finished with 15 points on 5-for-17 shooting.
“You need to take it to another level and find a way to get it done,” Jamison said.
Washington fell into a 0-2 hole in the first round against Chicago, and became the ninth team in NBA history to recover from such a deficit. That’s why the mood in the Wizards’ locker room was upbeat.
“You’ve got to get smacked in the face before you toughen up,” Arenas said. “They’re beating us down right now. But we’re not afraid. We’re going to keep fighting.”
O’Neal had seven rebounds to go with his 6-for-11 performance and continued his silence. He did not take questions for the third consecutive day.
Wade made 10 of 15 shots and grabbed seven rebounds. In the first three quarters, Miami had 29 baskets, 22 either made by Wade or set up by his passes.
The Heat needed Wade to be especially sharp because the Wizards simply wouldn’t go away.
“He is a tornado out there,” Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said of Wade. “He is a major force.”
Jamison hit a floater from 12 feet with 1:24 left to bring Washington within five, but Wade answered with a three-point play 19 seconds later. He drove past Arenas, darted left, drew contact from Jamison, changed hands with the ball and scored.
The free throw gave Miami a 105-97 lead.
“We have ourselves a chance,” Jordan said. “And I would think that if we play that hard, maybe a little bit better, then we’ll have a chance in our place the next two games.”
Not including a buzzer-beating try to end the first quarter from halfcourt that barely missed, bouncing just off the front of the rim, Wade made his first six shots.
His first conventional miss came with 1:08 left in the half, but he atoned for it seconds later, stripping Juan Dixon of the ball and driving for a dunk that put Miami, 6-0 this postseason, ahead 54-45.