Friday , Mar , 25 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Miami Heat Team Report – March 25

=== Miami Heat Team Report – March 25 ===

(Sports Network) – The Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat will be
attempting to send a message to the rest of the league tonight, when they take
on the Western Conference-leading Phoenix at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Miami (52-17) and Phoenix (51-16) are locked in a virtual tie atop the league,
but the Suns own the slightly better win percentage (.761-.754). The Heat
slipped into the tie thanks to an 84-82 loss to the Houston Rockets on Tuesday
evening. With the defeat, Miami’s 12-game win streak came to an end.

Shaquille O’Neal scored 23 points with 16 rebounds for the Heat, who lost for
just the third time in 22 games. Dwyane Wade had 20 points for Miami, which
played without injured forward Udonis Haslem. Haslem suffered a separated left
shoulder in Friday’s game against New York. The University of Florida product
will be a game-time decision tonight.

It didn’t help Miami that it got just eight points from its bench in the
defeat. The Heat bench connected on just 3-of-14 shots in the losing effort.

Miami did not have its best shooting night, managing just 40 percent,
including 4-of-13 (.308) from three-point range. The Heat also drained 22-
of-33 (.667) from the free throw line in the defeat. Miami won the rebounding
war, 46-45, but committed 18 turnovers.

Miami, which has already secured a playoff spot, remains comfortably
entrenched atop the East, nine games ahead of second place Detroit. The Heat
is also 13 1/2 contests in front of Southeast Division rival Washington.

Following tonight’s home tilt, the Heat will take to the road to battle the
Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday. Miami will then have two days off before
hosting Toronto on Tuesday.