Saturday , Mar , 03 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Shaq’s points, assists season highs help Heat rally past Pistons

Miami, FL (Sports Network) – Shaquille O’Neal had a season-high 31 points,
pulled down 15 rebounds and had a season-best six assists, as Miami overcame
blowing a 22-point lead before pulling out an 85-82 triumph over Detroit.

Antoine Walker added 22 points for Miami, which won its eighth in a row at
home, helped by Detroit’s horrendous three-point shooting.

“It was a great win for us,” Heat coach Pat Riley said. “Any time we keep a
team down in the 80s, we got a chance to win. Even though we didn’t play well
in the second half, we held them to 37 percent, and we got a chance to win the
game.”

Tayshaun Prince had 22 points and Richard Hamilton scored 20 for the Pistons,
who had a four-game winning streak broken. Antonio McDyess scored 17 and had
12 boards for Detroit, which was a paltry 1-for-16 from three-point range.

“We gave the Miami Heat too many easy shots,” Pistons coach Flip Saunders
said. “I did not think we were too aggressive.”

Chauncey Billups was limited to nine points on 2-of-14 shooting for Detroit,
and missed all eight of his shots from beyond the arc, including one in the
closing seconds after a surprising Heat turnover.

Eddie Jones hit two free throws with 12.4 seconds left to extend Miami to an
85-80 lead, seconds before Chris Webber missed a three to try and tie it for
Detroit.

Billups then made two at the foul line with eight seconds left. Prince picked
off Gary Payton’s poor inbounds pass and dished the ball to Billups,
whose three-pointer hit off the rim. Hamilton’s desperation try from inside
halfcourt was off the mark as time expired, as the Heat survived in probably
their best victory since losing All-Star guard Dwyane Wade to a shoulder
injury.

James Posey scored 10 and had seven boards for Miami, which posted its second
straight win.

The Heat raced to a 6-0 lead, capped by an O’Neal jam, and it was 20-15 Miami
after one quarter.

A 17-3 spurt in the second quarter widened Miami’s lead to 50-28, and the Heat
held a comfortable 50-31 cushion at the half.

Eight straight Detroit points to end the third brought the visitors within
61-57 going into the fourth.

Detroit finally went ahead at 74-73 on Prince’s jam with 3:14 remaining and
Billups’ fadeaway jumper moved the margin to three at 78-75 with 1:57 left,
but the Pistons couldn’t hold on.

Posey’s hook shot had the Heat within one and Walker’s three-pointer gave
Miami the lead with 1:04 left.

Two McDyess free throws with under a minute left tied the score before
O’Neal’s follow jam off a miss from Walker in the lane gave the Heat the lead
for good with 35.3 seconds left. Jason Williams’ free throw with 24.7 left had
the Heat ahead 83-80.

It was an impressive game for O’Neal, considering he’s still slowed by knee
problems.

“If you give it (basketball) to me and let me go to work, I’m known to do
that,” he said. “I am the baddest big man for my age bracket. I was the
baddest at age 20 and now I’m the baddest at age 35.”

Game Notes

Miami is 34-1 at home in February and March over the last three
years…Detroit’s 31 first-half points were a team low for the opening 24
minutes…This was Walker’s most points since he had 22 on November 14 against
Denver…Detroit’s Rasheed Wallace was out with a sprained left foot…Detroit
had won the last three meetings and lost for just the fourth time in the last
18 matchups.

DET MIA