TOO MUCH FLASH. WADE BURNS PISTONS FOR 40
Flash listened and learned.
Dwyane Wade read the criticism in the newspapers and instead of getting mad, he took it in stride after a terrible Game 1 against the Pistons.
He listened to his old coach at Marquette Tom Crean and his current coach Stan Van Gundy. And finally came the morning call at 3:45 from Shaquille O'Neal.
"When he called I thought he was crazy," Wade said.
They all told him to relax, slow the game down and allow it to come to him.
The second year player came armed with a new game and new attitude. He burned the Pistons for 40 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the Heat's 92-86 victory over the Pistons.
But despite his brilliant play the game came down to the final five minutes again. In Game 1 the Pistons rattled Wade and the Heat on an 10-1 run to break a late tie.
But this time Wade did not wilt under the heat of the Pistons who roared back from a 14-point deficit to take the lead. Instead he created the heat by scoring 20 points in the fourth to pull away from the sticky Pistons and even this series 1-1 heading into Game 3 Sunday at The Palace.
"He was very motivated," said teammate Damon Jones. "He came to me and said just be in your spot because I am going to attack the basket very hard. If those guys come I am going to be kicking. If not I am going aggressively to the basket."
Flash entertained Heat fans with one of the most memorable performances in recent playoff history. He attacked the basket like a battering ram and he blew by normally dependable Pistons defenders as if they were pylons.
It was a great test for a great young player. The Pistons humbled him in Game 1, but they did not break him. He figured out the tricky Pistons defense, measured Tayshaun Prince, and single handedly sank the Pistons.
It was a Flashy night in Miami. But it was also a night where the Pistons failed to match the Heat's energy early in the game. They appeared to play like a team that had already accomplished its mission to Miami.
They simply wanted to steal home court and rush home.
The Pistons were already on the flight home in the first half. That is why Chauncey Billups turned the ball over at an alarming rate; why Prince got into early foul trouble and Rasheed Wallace missed shots he normally makes.
"We came to get one and we got one, " said Rip Hamilton. "Now we have to go home and take care of business and feed off our fans. We are ready for that. "
It is only human nature to relax when people are telling you "Mission Accomplished." The Pistons simply need to take care of business at home to advance to their second straight NBA Finals.
To their credit they rallied and nearly stole a game they had no business winning. They showed character late. And that should be applauded. But they were blinded by the flash of Dwyane Wade.
And now they have a new problem. The young blood picked himself off the floor with a little help from his friends. Now he is confident and ready to steal home-court back from the Pistons.
Now the Pistons must listen, learn and respond in the same manner that the young man from Miami did.
I wonder who will be making late night calls for the Pistons Saturday night.
(My email address is Fosternews@aol.com and my voice mail is 313-222-1494).