June 14, 2006
Dwyane Wade:
Ties a career playoff high with 42 points, including 12 in the Heat's wild 22-7 run to overcome the Mavs' 13-point lead with 6:34 to play. Wade was playing with 5 fouls, too.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

"I am absolutely without a doubt a true believer," Pat Riley said of his faith in his team to pull off its stunning Game 3 comeback.

Riley might have been the only one.

Admit it: With the Heat down 13 with just over 6 minutes to play, did you think they had a chance?

Miami's improbable comeback is precisely why you'd be crazy to count them out now. Being down 2-1 is way less daunting than 2-0. This kind of win can inject a team with confidence to rip off two more wins at home.

The comeback was a sign that the Heat are worth believing in. But even beyond Wade's 42, there are even more "signs":

Shaq hit his free throws: At least, the two that mattered, with 1:47 to go, closing the Mavs' lead from 5 to 3. Shaq was 4-6 for the night, vastly improving his 2-16 from Games 1 and 2.

(Given Shaq's unusual FT success, it's worth noting the game's most interesting detail: Shaq said he went back to shooting free throws like he did in high school. Hey, if it feels good, do it.)

And Dirk didn't hit his: Down 2 with 3 seconds to go, the 90 percent FT shooter choked on his second attempt, leaving the Mavs down 1 and stalled at 96 points. It was like a Shaq-Dirk "Freaky Friday" moment.

Gary Payton was clutch: With the game tied and 9 seconds to go, the result was in the hands of The Glove?! Despite being 1-8 in Games 1 and 2, and without a FG attempt up to that point in Game 3, Payton drained the winning shot.

And perhaps the biggest sign of all: Josh Howard scored more than 20 and the Mavs still lost, the first time that has happened in 26 games, the go-to stat of the Mavs' playoff run.

(Speaking of signs, don't forget that on Monday the city of Dallas released preliminary plans for a Mavs victory parade. Instead of "preliminary," maybe they should call it "premature.")

As for Riley's next belief?

"I know we can play better. It takes us to another day. We'll try to square this thing up in Game 4."

If they do, the most glaring sign left will be Dallas' panic.

MLB Hit List
Best game of MLB season? Johan Santana (season-high 13 K's) and Curt Schilling (6 H, 1 R, 8 IP) dueled in a double gem, with a Jason Kubel walk-off grand slam in 12th for a Twins win.

Halladay sizzling: Ozzie Guillen might be ready to name Jose Contreras the AL's starting pitcher for the All-Star Game, but Roy Halladay is worth considering:

Barbaro: Everyone's favorite equine has leg cast replaced
Chris Carpenter: Career-high 13 Ks to lead Cards past Bucs
Jim Harrick: Pariah hired to coach NBDL's Bakersfield Jam
Eric Gagne: Dodgers put reliever back on DL, activate Kent
Cato June: Pulls a "Young," arrested for failing to appear
Rick Ankiel: Cards' reclamation project done for '06 (knee)
Last night's complete game 6-hitter over the O's was Doc's 7th straight winning decision (Ozzie would probably counter that Contreras has won 15 straight decisions, including 7 this season.)

Superlative of the Day: In cutting Russ Ortiz, the D-Backs are about to choke down the largest nut of cash ever on a released player: $22 million. Even the Yankees force their overpaid, underperforming dogs to stay on the roster.

World Cup Wrap
Brazil sets record: 8 straight wins is an all-time Cup record. But for those casual fans like me who bought into the "joga bonito" hype, one measly goal ain't much to cheer for.

France is weak (and America chuckles). Les Bleus haven't scored since they won the Cup in 1998, a span of four games. Curse of the Cup?

Hmm: What do you think the "grace period" is for the World Cup? Normally, it's what, like, four years for an annual sport? Does that mean Cup-winning fans get a 16-year grace period before they should start getting restless about not winning another?

Togo Voodoo Update: For a half there, I actually thought the Togo voodoo stuff was going to work. Togo still has one more goal than the U.S. (maybe the Yanks should try a little voodoo, too).

Speaking of the U.S., coach Bruce Arena is, unsurprisingly, ready to make some lineup changes. High-profile DaMarcus Beasley has probably seen his final minutes of action as a member of the team (at least for 2006).

Cuban Blog Report
5:47 p.m.: "Dang it's humid … "
In Miami, Cuban didn't bring his laptop to the arena to blog. (He did pimp his new prerelease Sidekick 3, but he didn't file any blog posts on it during the game).

He did offer one portentous comment: "We have to be able to take the early barrage of punchs [sic]." (He might want to go back and edit that, changing "early" to "late.")

J.J. Redick's DUI
In the wake of J.J.'s embarrassing DWI arrest, Team Redick brought out the big guns within 12 hours: Coach K.

"J.J. knows he made a mistake and regrets it." Oh, well, if Coach K says so, then it must be true. Because, y'know, he's a leader.

"He represented the very best in college athletics and exhibited outstanding character at Duke the last four years." Note the use of the past tense.

"He is and will continue to be a credit to the Duke basketball family." If "credit" means "huge alumni donation to our team's hedge fund."

(By the way: DWI is much worse than riding without a helmet. The latter is a personal-responsibility issue; the former impacts everyone else.)

Big Ben Update
Big Ben backers yesterday were trying to claim that, for all his indefensible stupidity in not wearing a helmet, at least Ben didn't do anything illegal.

That may not be the case: Police are investigating reports that Ben wasn't riding the cycle with a proper license.

If that's right, it would make his accident even stupider -- and undercut his defenders' already tenuous position that Ben was an innocent victim here.

Former Golden Boot winner looked lead-legged in yesterday's World Cup debut. Meanwhile, 22-year-old stud Robinho was full of energy. Time for a switch?
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Young Bros. Update: Bad season gets worse. First, Delmon Young was suspended 50 games in AAA for the throwing-his-bat-at-the-umpire incident. Now, a judge orders older brother Dmitri's arrest when he doesn't appear for a pretrial hearing on a domestic violence charge.

NFL: Pats' Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch was a holdout on the first day of the team's mini-camp, and the Genius (aka Bill Belichick) isn't too happy about it.

Like clockwork, the WADA (World Anti-Doping Association) doesn't like the credit the NHL is taking for their "we're all clean" drug results.

WNBA All-Decade Team: Sue Bird, Tamika Catchings, Cynthia Cooper, Yolanda Griffith, Lauren Jackson, Lisa Leslie, Katie Smith, Dawn Staley, Sheryl Swoopes, Tina Thompson (snubbed: Teresa Weatherspoon).

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