Shaq can't miss as Miami downs Seattle
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Shaquille O'Neal scored 31 points and missed just one of his 16 field goal attempts, as Miami won its season-high fifth straight game by holding off a late Seattle rally to beat the SuperSonics, 115-106.
O'Neal, who made his first 14 shots, also had nine rebounds and four blocks, as the Heat shot 58.6 percent from the floor and moved 15 games over .500 (35-20). Dwyane Wade had a solid all-around game again with 26 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists, while Udonis Haslem posted 16 points and nine boards.
"Guys were looking for me and I was taking high percentage shots," O'Neal said. "Our team is playing with a lot of energy. Everybody is moving the ball and we are playing together."
Rashard Lewis had 25 points and nine rebounds to pace the Sonics, losers in 10 of their last 12 contests. Ray Allen tallied 21 points for Seattle.
"They are a team built to win a championship and I thought under the circumstances our guys did a good job," Seattle head coach Bob Hill said of the Heat.
Miami led by as many as 21 points in the third quarter, but the Sonics closed the gap to five points heading into the fourth. Seattle closed within one twice in the fourth, but never went ahead.
"You get one or two games a year where you get a 21-point lead and you hold onto it," Wade said. "Guys are going to make a run. You have to try to settle things down and try to get good offensive sets."
A 15-6 spurt moved the Heat to an 89-68 advantage. An O'Neal dunk finished the rally with 5:52 left in the third, but Seattle began a furious comeback moments later.
The Sonics closed the period on a 20-4 run. Mike Wilks' two free throws ended the run and Seattle pulled within one twice, the last time at 101-100 following a Wilks layup with 6:23 left. Wilks was traded from Cleveland to Seattle on Thursday.
However, two straight dunks from Wade and another from Shaq moved the Heat to a 107-100 edge. An O'Neal layup followed by a Haslem turn-around jumper extended Miami to an insurmountable 113-104 lead with 1:09 remaining.
Eleven straight Miami points moved the Heat to an early 18-8 advantage. Wade had five of those points, and Miami was in front 39-27 after 12 minutes. The Heat built that cushion to 68-53 at halftime.
The Heat had 23 first-half assists, a franchise record for any half...Miami was 3-of-18 from three-point range and just 10-of-21 at the charity stripe. Shaq was 1-of-6 at the foul line...The Heat had 84 points in the paint and 35 fast-break points, both season-bests.SEA MIA