Miami’s Pat Riley returns to bench in Windy City
(Sports Network) – Pat Riley will be back on the bench calling the shots for
the Miami Heat tonight, as they try to win their second straight game against
the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.
Stan Van Gundy resigned on Monday as head coach of the Heat. Riley, who is
also the team’s president, returns to the bench to guide Miami. Van Gundy,
who was in his third year at the helm, said he wanted to spend more time with
This past summer there were rumors that Riley would return to the bench,
having built a team that can contend for another NBA title, but he vehemently
Riley posted a mark of 354-270 in his eight seasons as Heat head coach from
1995 through the end of the 2002-03 campaign. He also took the club to the
conference finals once, losing to eventual NBA champion Chicago in 1997.
The Heat won four consecutive division titles under Riley, starting in 1996-97
and ending in 1999-2000. He was the league’s coach of the year after the
’96-97 season when the Heat finished 61-21.
The Heat failed to qualify for the playoffs in 2001-02 and 2002-03, completing
the latter season with a dismal 25-57 mark. Riley then decided to step down.
In 21 seasons as head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and
Heat, Riley has compiled a record of 1,110-569. His victory total trails only
Lenny Wilkens and Don Nelson on the NBA’s all-time list. Riley has been
honored as the NBA Coach of the Year on three occasions and his string of 19
straight postseason berths from 1982-2001 is a league record for consecutive
Miami begins a four-game road trip tonight. On Sunday, Miami’s last game under
Van Gundy, Dwyane Wade poured in a season-high 41 points and Shaquille O’Neal
sank the game-tying free throw at the end of regulation in his return, as the
Heat defeated the Washington Wizards, 104-101, in overtime at AmericanAirlines
Wade also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out eight assists in the win over
Washington, while O’Neal tallied 10 points and grabbed 11 boards before
fouling out in his first action since November 3rd. Shaq sprained his right
ankle during the second game of the season versus Indiana and had been out
Veteran guard Gary Payton scored a season-high 21 points and forward Udonis
Haslem chipped in 11 points and eight boards for Miami, which snapped a four-
game losing streak. Alonzo Mourning started at center instead of O’Neal, who
entered the game with 5:55 remaining in the first period to a standing
ovation. Mourning ended with four points and four boards in the win over the
Miami is 3-7 on the road this season. The Heat are also scheduled to visit
Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Cleveland on the current swing.
Chicago also comes into tonight’s game off a victory. Chris Duhon tied a
career-high with 24 points and handed out seven assists, as the Bulls rallied
from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to post a 118-111 win over the
Wizards at the MCI Center.
Kirk Hinrich ended with 22 points, seven rebounds and 13 assists, while Luol
Deng contributed 21 points and 12 boards in the win over Washington for the
Bulls, who closed the game with a 16-0 run. Darius Songaila finished with 15
points, which included going a perfect 5-of-5 from the foul line, in the win.
The Bulls are 4-4 at the United Center this season. They have dropped three in
a row at home.
Miami has won seven of the last eight meetings in this series. The Heat have
won four of their last six at Chicago.