No Shaq, no problem: Heat win ninth straight
Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Dwyane Wade poured in 33 points and dished out 11
assists to lead Miami to a 108-100 win over Boston at AmericanAirlines Arena.
Udonis Haslem added 18 points and tied a career-high with 17 rebounds for
the Heat, who have won nine straight games and are on their longest winning
streak since capturing 10 straight in March, 1998.
Miami played without All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal, who sat out with a calf
injury sustained in last Sunday’s game against Orlando. O’Neal, though, is
hopeful to return for Saturday’s Christmas Day contest against Kobe Bryant and
the Los Angeles Lakers.
“We prepared this morning to play as if we would not have him (O’Neal),” said
Miami head coach Stan Van Gundy. “It is easy to go back the other way. Without
him, the important thing is that the ball had to keep moving. It could not be
a stand around game. I was concerned because we have not played a lot of
minutes without Shaq, and we have not worked on that part of our game. I was
concerned if we would be able to do it, and we were pretty efficient, and it
was good to watch. But I like it better when he is in the game.”
Eddie Jones contributed 17 points and Damon Jones netted 12 in the win.
Paul Pierce had 25 points and grabbed six rebounds for the Celtics, who lost
for only the second time in their last six contests. Al Jefferson added 15
points and nine boards in the setback.
Miami led by six after three quarters and widened the margin to 93-85 on
Rasual Butler’s jumper with around nine minutes left in the game. The margin
grew to nine points moments later and Haslem’s tip-in with 5:15 left extended
the cushion to 101-90.
Boston did close within eight on several occasions in the waning minutes, but
could not get any closer.
The teams were tied at 33-33 after the first quarter and the Celtics carried a
narrow 60-59 advantage into the locker room after an extremely competitive
Pierce scored 13 points, while Wade and Eddie Jones each netted 15 for Miami
in the opening 24 minutes.
“He (Wade) just killed us tonight, he killed us with his toughness,” said
Boston head coach Doc Rivers. “He is a great player.”
In the third period, Mark Blount’s basket with 7:31 left gave Boston a 71-67
lead, but the Heat responded with a 9-2 spurt to pull ahead by three. Damon
Jones hit a pair of threes and Wade added three points during the run. Miami
led by five moments later and took an 87-81 lead into the fourth.