Final

Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/24

Game 1: Wednesday, November 24th
Heat99Final
Hawks93
Game 2: Monday, December 27th
Hawks102Final
Heat116
Game 3: Wednesday, January 19th
Hawks92Final
Heat111
Game 4: Friday, January 28th
Heat106Final
Hawks96

Hawks 102

(5-21, 2-10 away)

Heat 116

(23-7, 12-3 home)

Coverage: FSS

7:30 PM ET, December 27, 2004

AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

1 2 3 4 T
ATL 24 32 24 22102
MIA 29 26 33 28116

Top Performers

Atlanta: P. Drobnjak 16 Pts, 8 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

Miami: S. O'Neal 31 Pts, 7 Reb, 2 Ast

Heat notch franchise-record 12th straight win

MIAMI (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal was banged up and sore, but still made his presence felt in a big way.

O'Neal scored 31 points despite playing with a sore back and ribs, and Dwyane Wade added 27 as the Miami Heat set a franchise record with their 12th straight win, a 116-102 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night.

The Heat, playing for the first time since their much-hyped Christmas Day overtime win against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, eclipsed their mark for consecutive wins set in 1997. Miami also set a franchise mark for home attendance with 20,291.

O'Neal wore a sleeveless T-shirt and padding underneath his jersey. He said he felt sore after the game against the Lakers, but can't recall a specific play when the injury took place.

"My back was sore. The flak jacket felt good, so I plan to wear it the rest of my career," O'Neal said.

It didn't appear there was anything wrong with him. O'Neal made 10 of 14 shots from the floor, getting started with a pair of dunks in the opening minutes. He was uncharacteristically effective at the foul line, making 11 of 14 attempts in his 32 minutes.

"I wanted to come out aggressive and take my mind off my sore back," O'Neal said.

Wade, who sparked Miami's win against the Lakers with 29 points, followed that up with another solid performance, adding three rebounds and nine assists.

After getting two close wins on the road against the Kings and Lakers to complete a 2-0 trip, the Heat survived a scare from the Hawks, who have the league's second-worst record.

"This win streak has shown us what we have as a team when we win close games," Wade said. "We've been doing it in the big stages and it proves where this team is headed."

Antoine Walker, Tony Delk and Predrag Drobnjak each scored 16 points for the Hawks, who lost for the sixth time in seven games and fell to 2-10 on the road.

The game turned in Miami's favor toward the end of the third quarter. Trailing 78-72, the Heat ran off 13 straight points and closed the period with a 16-2 spurt to grab an 88-80 lead. Wade triggered the surge with three assists and seven points.

Walker hit a pair of free throws for the Hawks to cut the gap to 106-100 with 2:29 left. But Christian Laettner hit two free throws and then converted a three-point play to extend Miami's lead to 111-100 with 1:41 to go.

"Twelve wins in a row is incredible," Miami's Eddie Jones said. "It's a confidence booster. We believe when things aren't going great that we can come back."

The Hawks put together a strong second quarter, led by newly acquired Tyronn Lue's nine points, and led 56-55 at halftime.

In the end, though, it was too much of O'Neal and Wade, who combined for 58 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

"They're an awesome team," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "When you get off to a start like they have, they know that they're playing for a title. They have a legitimate shot of coming out of the East and getting to the Finals. They're a team that's playing with a purpose right now."

O'Neal started strong, with a pair of dunks in the opening minutes. A woeful 44 percent shooter from the foul line this season, O'Neal easily had his best night at the stripe.

"Maybe he should wear that brace all the time," said Hawks center Jason Collier, who drew the assignment of guarding O'Neal. "The way he was hitting his free throws, it was a good night for him."

Game notes


Lue, acquired in a trade on Dec. 23, made his debut for the Hawks and finished with 13 points in 19 minutes. ... The Heat's previous 11-game winning streak was Jan. 27-Feb. 20, 1997. ... Miami has won five straight against the Hawks. ... Atlanta's Jason Collier missed much of the second and third quarters after taking a shot to the jaw from O'Neal ... The Heat improved to 18-0 when scoring 100 or more points.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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