Miami forces Game 7

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MIAMI --- Dwyane Wade soared past Zaza Pachulia, throwing down a fierce dunk as the Atlanta forward sent him sprawling into a row of photographers.

Miami forward Michael Beasley shoots over Atlanta's Josh Smith during the first quarter Friday night. Beasley had 22 points and  15 rebounds in the Heat's 26-point victory.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Miami forward Michael Beasley shoots over Atlanta's Josh Smith during the first quarter Friday night. Beasley had 22 points and 15 rebounds in the Heat's 26-point victory.

Down. Definitely not out.

When the Miami Heat needed him most, Wade was at his best.

Wade scored 41 points, Michael Beasley busted out of a slump with 22 points and 15 rebounds, and the Heat stayed alive by routing the Hawks 98-72 in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference first-round series Friday night.

So a wild back-and-forth series -- three routs for the Hawks, three routs for the Heat -- will be decided Sunday in Atlanta in Game 7.

"No pressure on us," Wade said. "We're the underdogs in this series."

Mike Bibby scored all 20 of his points in the first half for Atlanta, which fell behind by 15 in the opening quarter, cut the deficit to nine by halftime, but never really challenged from there.

Sunday will be winner-take-all, with one team going to Cleveland to open the second round against LeBron James and the Cavaliers on Tuesday night, and the other heading into an off-season that'll surely be filled with what-might-have-beens.

The wacky run of outcomes continued: Atlanta's wins have been by 26, 10 and 15 points. The Heat have prevailed by 15, 29 and 26 points.

"They did what they had to do tonight and played extremely well," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "We were just there."

James Jones scored 11 points for Miami, nine in the first quarter. Just like every other game in this series, the team that took control early kept it throughout, and Miami wasted no time in putting Atlanta on its heels.

The Hawks hoped they would be in Cleveland on Sunday afternoon for Game 1 of the second round. Instead, they got blown away, meaning they still haven't won a playoff series since 1999, or prevailed in any best-of-seven matchup since 1970 -- a staggering drought.

Wade spent two days imploring his teammates to match the Hawks' challenge. He mentioned Beasley by name, asking the rookie to live up to his star billing.

Beasley listened.

Two hours before game time, he was out on the court, taking shot after shot after shot. Something must have clicked; Beasley finished 11-for-25 from the floor.

FIRST ROUND

ATLANTA HAWKS VS. MIAMI HEAT

Series tied 3-3

GAME 1: Atlanta 90, Miami 64

GAME 2: Miami 108, Atlanta 93

GAME 3: Miami 107, Atlanta 78

GAME 4: Atlanta 81, Miami 71

GAME 5: Atlanta 106, Miami 91

GAME 6: Miami 98, Atlanta 72

SUNDAY: Miami at Atlanta, 1 p.m. (ABC-Ch. 6)


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