Originally created 05/27/06

Heat ready to regain swagger



MIAMI - Only two days ago, the Miami Heat seemed relaxed and confident as they held a one-game lead in the Eastern Conference finals.

With that cushion now gone, they simply seem angry.

Shaquille O'Neal wants the ball more, repeating his refrain from last season's playoffs. Dwyane Wade is growing increasingly frustrated about tactics the Detroit Pistons use against him defensively. Pat Riley made little effort to hide his disappointment in the lack of energy and effort that doomed the Heat in Game 2.

All those tenets add another several levels of intrigue to today's pivotal third game of the series, with the Heat and Pistons knotted at a game apiece.

"They feel that they're the best team," Wade said. "They feel like every time that they lose, it's because of them. ... We don't get any credit. We've got to go out and earn it. We don't deserve any, evidently, so we've got to go out and continue to earn our credit - and that's by going out and winning this series."

Detroit took a 25-12 lead after the first quarter of Game 2 and pushed the margin to as many as 18 points in the second half, before hanging on for a 92-88 victory. The Heat scored 17 points in a 97-second span to get within two with 9.8 seconds left, a furious rally that ultimately failed.

Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince said he thought the way Miami closed Game 2 might have swiped some momentum away from his team.

"I think it can," Prince said Thursday night. "But hopefully it won't and hopefully we just build on what we did before that happened."

Detroit did not make players available for comment Friday.

The Heat's two superstars shot 59 percent and averaged 46 points - more than half the team's scoring - in the first two games.

"I think we need to focus on getting it inside," O'Neal said after Game 2. "We took way too many jump shots. ... We were just trying to make jump shots and that's not our game. We have to get inside and send it back out."

STOUDEMIRE'S MOM SENTENCED: The mother of Phoenix Suns star power forward Amare Stoudemire was sentenced Friday to three years in prison in a drunken driving case.

Carrie Mae Stoudemire, who appeared in court wearing a black-and-white prison uniform and donning blond dreadlocks, was arrested in October after crashing into a barricade on Interstate 10.

She entered a guilty plea this month to one count of felony DUI, and a second charge was dropped under terms of a plea deal.

In addition to the prison time, commissioner Aimee Anderson ordered Stoudemire to pay about $2,500 in fines.