Tuesday , Mar , 07 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Shaq celebrates birthday in style as Heat beat Bobcats in OT

Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) – Shaquille O’Neal celebrated his 34th
birthday in style by scoring a season-high 35 points, including all of Miami’s
points in overtime, as the Heat rallied to beat the Charlotte Bobcats,
106-105.

O’Neal, who celebrated his 34th birthday on Monday, had 27 of his points after
halftime, and grabbed 12 boards to pace the Heat to their season-high ninth
consecutive victory. Miami won despite playing without All-Star guard Dwyane
Wade, who sat out with a sprained right wrist.

“We were messing around the whole game so i just told the guys to keep coming
to me and they did,” said O’Neal.

Jason Williams scored 24 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, while
Udonis Haslem tallied 16 points and 13 rebounds for the Heat.

Gerald Wallace totaled 26 points and 15 rebounds and Brevin Knight added 24
points and dished out 11 assists for the Bobcats, who have lost nine of their
last 11 contests.

“This was a game from the opening tip that we felt like we could have won,”
said Wallace. “They made some key plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”

Kareem Rush hit a three-pointer to put the Bobcats up 10, 86-76, early in the
fourth.

A Primoz Brezec jumper with under three minutes to play put the Bobcats up
98-92. Miami closed regulation with six straight points, as Williams hit a
three-pointer with under a minute left to tie the game at 98.

With 11.4 seconds left, Antoine Walker missed a jumper, giving the Bobcats a
chance for the win. On the final possession, Brezec missed a jumper and the
game headed to overtime.

O’Neal’s dunk with 42 seconds to play in the extra session gave the Heat a
two-point lead, 106-104. Raymond Felton was sent to the line with 34 seconds
left, where he converted only 1-of-2 free throws.

With time winding down, Gary Payton missed a jumper, but Haslem was able to
pull down the rebound and kick it back out to run out the clock.

Melvin Ely capped a 12-2 run for the Bobcats with a field goal, putting
Charlotte up 32-18, and 35-24 after the first quarter.

A Wallace jumper put his team up 56-41, but Miami responded with an 11-3 run
to close the half and cut the deficit to 59-52.

Game Notes

Walker scored 16 points for the Heat…Miami has won six of the seven meetings
between the two teams…Felton scored 19 points and dished out five
assists…Miami won despite hitting only 56 percent of its free-throws, while
Charlotte connected on 78.6 percent…O’Neal was 3-of-11 at the foul line.

MIA CHL