MIAMI (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal was perfectly content watching his
teammates taking virtually every Miami shot in the middle two
quarters. But with the game on the line, he simply took over.
Wade narrowly missed a triple-double, finishing with 26 points,
nine rebounds and nine assists for the Heat, whose 14 wins are best
in the Eastern Conference. O'Neal was 4-for-5 from the floor in the
final quarter, added two assists in the pivotal period and teamed
with Wade for 19 of Miami's final 23 points.
"You're never going to stop Shaq. He's been to 78 All-Star
games," said Memphis' Mike Miller, overestimating O'Neal's number
of All-Star trips by a mere 67. "Bottom line is that he's going to
get his. ... Once he gets comfortable down there, he's going to
O'Neal hit his first three shots over the game's opening nine
minutes, then got only three more shots -- all misses -- over the
next 29 minutes. He ended the drought by scoring on consecutive
trips in the fourth, first on an emphatic one-handed dunk and next
on a powerful layup to push the Heat's lead to 75-70.
"We probably didn't go to him enough over the course of the
game," said Heat coach Stan Van Gundy. "And then we really
started going to him down the stretch."
A quick pass by O'Neal set Wade up for a layup with 5:59 left,
giving Miami a 78-72 edge, and his three-point play with 4:26
remaining put the Heat up 83-74 -- ensuring the game wouldn't get
"I was just trying to get everybody else involved," O'Neal
said. "And then in the fourth quarter, I told them, 'Make sure I
get it.' "
Memphis stayed with Miami for three quarters in large part
because it grabbed 20 offensive rebounds in the game's first 36
minutes. The Grizzlies got only two in the fourth, and were
outscored 23-16 in the period.
Lorenzen Wright had 14 of his 18 points in the second half for
Memphis, which lost for the second time since former Heat
television analyst Mike Fratello took over as coach five games ago.
The Grizzlies held a 22-8 edge in offensive rebounding, but
couldn't overcome 35.9 percent shooting.
"It was a good game for about 42 or 43 of the 48 minutes,"
Fratello said. "We just hit that one five- or six-minute stretch.
We couldn't do anything right, and they did everything right."
Wade was just short in his bid for what would have been the
fifth triple-double in Heat history and just the second in the last
10 seasons. Damon Jones had 15 points, all on 3-pointers, for the
Heat, who improved to 13-0 when leading entering the fourth
Miller had 13 points and Pau Gasol -- who'd averaged 23.5 points
in his previous four games -- had 12 for Memphis. Gasol and Wright
each had 11 rebounds, and Earl Watson had 12 assists for the
"He took over at the end. No one guy can stop Shaq," Wright
said. "We had our chance to win but we couldn't stop Shaq at the
Watson's reverse layup with 1:05 left drew Memphis to 87-82, but
he missed a 3-pointer with 38 seconds left, O'Neal corralled the
long rebound and the Heat survived.
Memphis trailed only 47-45 at halftime, staying close mainly
because it made five of its first six tries from 3-point range and
held a 15-4 edge in offensive rebounding.
The Grizzlies missed eight of nine shots over a 4:09 stretch of
the opening quarter, yet Miami only outscored Memphis 9-3 in that
span. And in the second quarter, Memphis had a 1-for-13 spell,
allowing the Heat to take off on a 14-2 run and build a 45-35 lead
on Wade's layup with 3:15 remaining.
But Memphis closed the half on a 10-2 spurt and went into the
break down by just a basket, even after allowing Miami to hit 58.6
percent of its shots in the half -- compared to the Grizzlies' 33.3
The Grizzlies are allowing an average of 90.2 points since
Fratello took over, a decrease of 5.2. ... Miami improved to 7-3 at
home, yet has outscored opponents by a total of only six points in
those 10 games. ... Former Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino was in
the crowd, along with fellow HBO analyst Cris Carter, Olympic gold
medalist Carl Lewis, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez, actress
Vivica A. Fox and comedian Martin Lawrence.
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