Miami (49-16) in step with Suns and Spurs (48-15)

MIAMI (AP) -- Dwyane Wade's first two baskets were high-flying
dunks off long alley-oop passes from Damon Jones.

Fitting, because the Miami Heat are absolutely soaring.

Wade scored 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting in just 26 minutes,
Shaquille O'Neal added 21 points and the Heat led by as many as 40
points in their 110-71 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday
night -- a win that moved Miami into a virtual tie with Phoenix and
San Antonio for the league's best record.

"Everyone's clicking at the right time," Wade said. "Our
teamwork is great, and it's coming together at the right time --
right before the playoffs."

It was the third-largest victory margin in franchise history for
Miami (49-16), which has won a league-best nine straight overall,
13 in a row at home. Phoenix and San Antonio are both 48-15. San
Antonio routed New Orleans on Monday night, and Phoenix was idle.

"I wouldn't say I'm impressed," said O'Neal, whose team can
clinch a playoff spot by beating the New York Knicks on Tuesday.
"I'd just say that the job is not done. It's not even almost

Perhaps, but securing the top seed for the Eastern Conference
playoffs appears to be little more than a formality.

The Heat aren't just beating teams these days -- they're turning
games into routs. Miami has held leads of at least 17 points in
each of its last eight games, and has won its last nine by an
average of 17.6 points.

Damon Jones added 15 points for Miami, which won its three
previous meetings with Milwaukee this season by an average of
merely 4.3 points. Eddie Jones had 10 for the Heat, 8½ games ahead
of Detroit in the East race.

"I've never experienced anything like this before," Eddie
Jones said. "I just think it's great. If we can continue to do
that, that's great. All we're going to do is continue to get better
if we do that."

Michael Redd had 14 points for Milwaukee, which lost for the
eighth time in its last 10 road games. Marcus Fizer added 11 for
the Bucks.

The Heat have held six of their last seven opponents to 90
points or less; Milwaukee shot just 32.1 percent, while the Heat
shot 55.4 percent.

"We didn't execute at all," Bucks forward Desmond Mason said
after his team endured its largest loss of the season. "We didn't
step up and play basketball. You can rank tonight as one of our
worst outings."

Miami led 21-19 late in the first quarter, before pulling away
with a 17-7 run over a 5-minute stretch. Wade had 11 of Miami's
points during the burst, including a three-point play and a jumper
a 27-second span to give the Heat a 38-26 lead with 9:25 left in
the half.

Wade had 21 points at that point, only five fewer than

He didn't score again in the half; Miami didn't need him to,

The Heat closed the half on a 9-0 run to build a 60-37 lead, and
the outcome was never again in doubt. Miami shot 60.5 percent in
the half compared to Milwaukee's 31.6 percent, and the 23-point
lead was the Heat's second-largest at the break this season.

"I thought we'd respond with a better effort," Bucks coach
Terry Porter said. "We've always been a team that for the most
part has responded well. And that's what's disappointing."

Alonzo Mourning's jumper with 7:53 left gave Miami a 102-62
lead, matching the Heat's largest margin of the season; they led
New Orleans by 40 points in January. Mourning had eight points in 9
minutes -- his best totals since rejoining the Heat.

"I thought we played all the way through," Heat coach Stan Van
Gundy said. "It was a pretty dominating performance at both ends
of the floor."

Game notes
The 39-point loss matched the sixth-largest in Bucks
history. ... Miami's previous biggest margin this season was 29,
against New Orleans on Jan. 23. ... Miami will try to tie its
franchise record of 14 straight home wins on Thursday night against
the Lakers. ... Milwaukee was looking for a season-best fourth
straight game of 100 or more points. ... Wade hit his only 3-point
try; he's 6-for-22 this season. Many of those have been desperation
heaves at ends of periods. ... Tuesday is the Heat's first game
with New York since forward Malik Rose was acquired at the trade
deadline by the Knicks. O'Neal said he knows what's coming. "He
does what everybody else does. Grab, foul and hope that the ref
doesn't call it," O'Neal said. ... Scottie Pippen and Desmond
Howard were in the crowd. ... Mason scored seven points for
Milwaukee; he's battling a strained left abdominal muscle.

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