MIAMI, May 2 – Dwyane Wade poured in 41 points to lead the Miami Heat to a 98-72 victory over Atlanta Friday that forced a decisive game seven in their National Basketball Association playoff series.Miami rookie Michael Beasley broke out of a slump to score 22 points with 15 rebounds, and the Heat fended off elimination with a lopsided victory in the Eastern Conference first-round series.
The see-saw battle, which has seen three double-digit victories for Miami and three double-digit victories for the Hawks, will come down to game seven in Atlanta, with the winner earning a second-round series against top-seeded Cleveland led by superstar LeBron James.
"Both teams are going to be desperate," Wade said. "It’s the last game for somebody."
But the Most Valuable Player candidate insisted the pressure would be on hosts Atlanta.
"No pressure on us," Wade said. "We’re the underdogs in this series."
Wade delighted Miami fans with a host of highlight-reel moments.
Early in the fourth he raced down the court and blocked a layup attempt by Flip Murray. He got the rebound and then got knocked to the floor.
He bounced up and responded with a dunk on Zaza Pachulia.
"He was a titan tonight," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said of Wade.
Atlanta’s Mike Bibby scored all 20 of his points in the first half, but the Hawks fell behind by 15 in the opening quarter, trailed by nine at halftime and never mounted a challenge thereafter.
As in every game in the series, the team that took charge early went on to win.
Since their game five defeat, Wade had urged his teammates to raise their games, specifically calling out Beasley, who was the second overall selection in the NBA draft.
Beasley stepped up, and his contribution was crucial with Miami’s Udonis Haslem limited by foul trouble and Jermaine O’Neal unable to play because of a concussion suffered when Pachulia hit him in the head in game five.
Murray and Joe Johnson scored 13 points apiece for the Hawks, who haven’t won a playoff series since 1999 and haven’t won a best-of-seven series since 1970.
"They did what they had to do tonight and played extremely well," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We were just there."