Heat-Spurs games raises $1.1 million for charity
MIAMI -- The Miami Heat and hurricane relief charities came away winners Monday night.
Miami opened the preseason by beating the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs 103-101 in a game added to the schedule to benefit victims of Hurricane Katrina. A check for $1.1 million was presented at halftime to the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, the Salvation Army and Feed the Poor.
"It's great to be able to do something for people," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said.
The game drew a capacity crowd of 19,600, with many tickets donated, and the teams gave fans what they came to see: dunks by Shaquille O'Neal, breakneck drives by Dwyane Wade and plenty of firepower from the Spurs.
Following a timeout with 2.4 seconds left, Heat rookie Kevin Braswell hit a layup for the winning score.
"On the bench Shaq said, 'The ball's coming to you,'" Braswell said. "With all the people in the stands, it felt great."
As officials reviewed a TV replay to make sure Braswell beat the buzzer, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich urged them to let the basket stand.
"It was a great night," Popovich said. "It was a win-win for everybody. It was really great for the people who were so unfortunate during the hurricane."
While San Antonio's lineup was unchanged from the end of last season, the game marked the debut of a revamped lineup by the Heat, who acquired three new starters after losing in the Eastern Conference finals last season.
"The champions, and those who would be champions," said one spectator, Hall of Famer Julius Erving.
Wade's daredevil acrobatics, Tim Duncan's shooting touch and Alonzo Mourning's scowl were all in midseason form. Perhaps the biggest surprise: O'Neal made his first three free throws, one a bank shot.
Despite only a week of practice and a steady stream of substitutions, both teams showed considerable offensive flair and shot better than 50 percent.
Duncan scored 16 points, all in the first half, and added 10 rebounds in 24 minutes. Manu Ginobili had 13 points in 16 minutes.
"It felt like yesterday we were playing in the Finals," Ginobili said. "I didn't think it was so long ago. We had all the plays fresh in our minds."
Michael Finley, who spurned the Heat for the Spurs this offseason, made three of four shots.
Wade took several hard spills to earn his 18 points. He sank a 40-foot runner that banked in as the buzzer sounded to end the first half.
O'Neal had 17 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. New teammate Antoine Walker drove almost the entire length of the court for one layup and finished with 20 points and five steals.
"It's going to take some time to get used to each other," O'Neal said. "But I liked what I saw out there with the guys' intensity and moving the ball and playing together. That's what it takes to get it done."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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