Final

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/19

Game 1: Sunday, December 19th
Magic107Final
Heat117
Game 2: Saturday, February 26th
Magic98Final
Heat101
Game 3: Sunday, February 27th
Heat112Final
Magic103
Game 4: Wednesday, April 20th
Heat98Final
Magic93

Magic 107

(14-10, 6-8 away)

Heat 117

(19-7, 10-3 home)

6:00 PM ET, December 19, 2004

AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

1 2 3 4 T
ORL 30 33 23 21107
MIA 30 24 32 31117

Top Performers

Orl: S. Francis 31 Pts, 4 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

Mia: S. O'Neal 27 Pts, 6 Reb, 5 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Miami reels off eighth straight

MIAMI (AP) -- When the Miami Heat gave Shaquille O'Neal a chance to keep their winning streak going, he passed. Twice.

Two nifty assists by O'Neal sparked a 13-point run late in the fourth quarter by the Heat, who won their eighth game in a row, beating the Orlando Magic 117-107 Sunday night.

"I found my shooters a couple of times," O'Neal said. "They know if they get open, I'm going to hit them for the high-percentage shot."

The Heat trailed much of the game and were down 103-102 with five minutes left before O'Neal helped them surge ahead.

On consecutive possessions, O'Neal hit a dunk, fed Eddie Jones for a 3-pointer that put Miami ahead to stay, then passed to Christian Laettner for a layup to make it 107-103. O'Neal's three-point play a minute later made it 110-103.

"At the end we just ran everything through Shaq," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "As the game goes on, the quick guys get tired and a little slower, but the big guys don't shrink."

O'Neal finished with 27 points and five assists.

"When you've got Shaq on the team, you keep feeding him," guard Keyon Dooling said. "That's a no-brainer."

Led by their new center, the Heat are on their longest winning streak since March 1998. The past four victories have come against teams above .500.

"We're getting better and putting together wins," O'Neal said. "We're not blowing people out all the time, but we'll get to that."

Playing their intrastate rivals for the first time this season, the Magic were eager to challenge Miami's supremacy atop the Southeast Division. Instead Orlando lost for the fourth time in five games and fell four games behind the Heat.

Steve Francis led Orlando with 31 points, many on acrobatic, slashing shots. He even drew a foul on a twisting attempt with his back to the basket.

But the Magic's transition game fizzled at the end, and they scored just two baskets in the final 5:16.

"That's one of the parts of the game where we have yet to grow," coach Johnny Davis said. "Down the stretch, the maturity and experience of a team show."

Cuttino Mobley had 22 points, and Grant Hill 20 for the Magic, who lost despite shooting 51 percent. Miami shot 52 percent and trailed only 36-34 on the boards against the Magic, who lead the NBA in rebounds per game.

"The most gratifying thing is Orlando came in and played well, and we won," Van Gundy said.

Jones went 8-for-10 and scored 25 points. Dwyane Wade added 22 despite missing 14 of 20 shots.

The Magic sank their first five 3-point attempts and shot 55 percent in the first half to lead 63-54. Jones' three-point play with 2.2 seconds left in the third quarter tied it at 87-all, and the Heat took the lead on a free throw to start the fourth quarter.

Francis was called for a technical for taunting the Heat bench at the end of the third period, and Laettner sank the free throw. He then converted a three-point play on the Heat's next possession to put them up 90-86.

There were four more lead changes to come -- and 15 in all.

"We should have won this game," Hill said. "We have to figure out a way to steal some games, just like teams have been doing to us."

Game notes


The Heat swept their four-game series against Orlando last season. ... Miami improved to 15-2 against Eastern Conference teams. They're 14-0 when scoring at least 100 points.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
ORL
MIA
Points 107 117
FGM-FGA 40-78 (.513) 43-83 (.518)
3PM-3PA 6-10 (.600) 8-17 (.471)
FTM-FTA 21-27 (.778) 23-27 (.852)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-36 7-34
Assists 12 24
Turnovers 12 9
Steals 5 5
Blocks 5 1
Fast Break Points 22 14
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (3/0) 20 (2/0)
Largest Lead 10 12

Top Performers

Orlando
Miami
Steve Francis Francis
Points: 31
Reb: 4
Ast: 3
Stl: 2
Blk: 1
Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
Points: 27
Reb: 6
Ast: 5
Stl: 1
Blk: 1