Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 3)

Series starts 11/28

Game 1: Sunday, November 28th
Game 2: Tuesday, December 21st
Game 3: Friday, April 15th

Celtics 104

(4-8, 1-4 away)

Heat 106

(10-5, 6-2 home)

    6:00 PM ET, November 28, 2004

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    BOS 30 30 17 27104
    MIA 34 25 26 21106

    Top Performers

    Bos: R. LaFrentz 21 Pts, 8 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk

    Mia: D. Wade 25 Pts, 5 Reb, 9 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    Shaq perfect from the field

    MIAMI (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal thinks Miami's opponents are rising to the challenge of playing against him and Dwyane Wade. And right now, the Heat aren't responding the way their center would prefer.

    Still, even a work-in-progress Heat team is good enough to win games, thanks largely to their star duo. Wade scored 25 points and O'Neal added 21 -- plus tied a team record by making all nine of his shot attempts -- in Miami's 106-104 victory over the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.

    "We've got to understand that every team that plays us, they're going to be playing damn near perfect ball so we have to play almost damn near perfect ball," said O'Neal, who had 13 rebounds for his ninth double-double in 11 games.

    "We have to match their effort," he said. "If we have more effort, then we'll win by 20 and 30."

    Boston ran past the Heat for 17 fast-break points in the fourth quarter to erase what was a 13-point deficit, and clawed into a tie with 6:11 left -- despite shooting 30 percent from the floor after halftime.

    Paul Pierce missed one of two free throws with 5 seconds left that would've tied it for Boston, which lost its fourth straight. He made the second to bring the Celtics within one before Christian Laettner made one to restore Miami's two-point lead with 3.1 seconds left.

    Boston had a last chance to tie, but Ricky Davis' double-clutched baseline jumper sailed long at the buzzer.

    "If we play like that on most nights, we're going to win more than we lose," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said. "The part I liked best is we got down, and there were no heads hanging like we've had in the past. Guys stuck in there and kept fighting."

    O'Neal's 9-for-9 effort improved his shooting over the last seven games to 55-for-79 -- 69.6 percent. He also passed Clyde Drexler for 19th on the NBA's all-time scoring list, finishing the night with 22,214 points -- 19 more than Drexler managed in 262 more games.

    Wade had nine assists and Damon Jones had eight of his 16 points in the fourth quarter for Miami, which improved to 9-1 against the Eastern Conference and 7-0 when cracking the 100-point mark. Eddie Jones added 12 for the Heat, who are 3-1 in games decided by two points or less.

    Raef LaFrentz scored a season-high 21 points -- all in the first three quarters -- for Boston. Pierce had 17, Davis 16 and Gary Payton 15 for the Celtics.

    "I think we needed a little energy booster to get us going," Davis said. "We just couldn't finish the game."

    The Celtics missed 13 of their first 14 shots of the third quarter, allowing Miami to build a 78-65 edge. Boston clawed its way back, using a 9-0 fourth-quarter run to get within 87-86, but never reclaimed the lead.

    O'Neal blocked a layup by Davis with 39 seconds left to protect Miami's two-point lead, then fouled Pierce hard enough to ensure he wouldn't tie it with a layup on the Celtics' next-to-last possession. And while the Heat players left the floor giddy, coach Stan Van Gundy was angered by his team's lack of execution.

    "We're just not willing to make the effort to play hard enough against teams who want to run the ball up and down the floor," Van Gundy said. "And it's appalling."

    Added Wade: "He's right. It's ridiculous."

    The win continued Miami's run of success this season against teams outside the NBA's upper echelon. The Heat's 10 wins have come against teams with a combined winning percentage of .418 entering Sunday; their five losses have been to teams that are winning at a .606 clip.

    Game notes

    LaFrentz had scored 19 points in his last three games combined. ... Miami had two turnovers in the first 2:43; it took the Heat 34:45 to commit two more. ... Boston is 0-3 when playing the first game of back-to-back contests. The Celtics are in Orlando on Monday. ... Heat backup C Michael Doleac played a season-low three minutes. ... Boston made 34 of 38 free throws; it was shooting 75.8 percent for the season coming in, ranking just 18th in the NBA.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 104 106
    FGM-FGA 33-81 (.407) 39-86 (.453)
    3PM-3PA 4-13 (.308) 7-19 (.368)
    FTM-FTA 34-38 (.895) 21-31 (.677)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-48 9-47
    Assists 18 24
    Turnovers 12 9
    Steals 6 6
    Blocks 4 9
    Fast Break Points 12 8
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 28 (0/0) 29 (1/0)

    Top Performers

    Raef LaFrentz LaFrentz
    Points: 21
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 1
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 2
    Dwyane Wade Wade
    Points: 25
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 9
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1