Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/24

Game 1: Wednesday, November 24th
Game 2: Monday, December 27th
Game 3: Wednesday, January 19th
Game 4: Friday, January 28th

Heat 106

(32-13, 16-8 away)

Hawks 96

(8-33, 6-17 home)

    7:30 PM ET, January 28, 2005

    Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIA 27 27 30 22106
    ATL 28 23 31 1496

    Top Performers

    Mia: S. O'Neal 26 Pts, 8 Reb, 7 Ast, 1 Blk

    Atl: A. Walker 36 Pts, 10 Reb, 8 Ast, 1 Blk

    Hawks drop five of 6 despite 'Toine's 36

    ATLANTA (AP) -- Shaquille O'Neal took a while to get going.

    Once he woke up, the Atlanta Hawks were finished.

    O'Neal scored 26 points and actually made more free throws than he missed, leading the Miami Heat to a 106-96 victory over the hapless Hawks on Friday night.

    "It's hard to get up for Jason Collier," said O'Neal, taking a shot at the starting half of Atlanta's nondescript center duo. "I had to let him slap me around a few times to wake me up."

    Actually, Peja Drobnjak got most of the minutes at center for the Hawks. Not that he fared much better than Collier.

    "I tried every way to guard Shaq, but you just can't do it," Atlanta coach Mike Woodson said. "He's the most dominating player in the league."

    Not even "Hack-a-Shaq" worked.

    Shooting just 45.7 percent at the foul line and coming off a 7-of-20 performance in a victory at Toronto two nights earlier, O'Neal surprised the Hawks by going 6-of-11 at the line.

    "I did OK," O'Neal said nonchalantly. "It's not something I'm worried about yet. I'll keep shooting them and when it's time to concentrate, I'll concentrate. I don't like to concentrate too early. My brain's not that big."

    Shandon Anderson, replacing an ailing Eddie Jones, added 21 points for the Heat, who lead the Eastern Conference with a 32-13 record -- including 16-8 on the road.

    The Hawks are at the opposite end of the East. They lost for the fifth time in six games and it really doesn't matter if they're home or away.

    Atlanta fell to 6-17 at Phillips Arena despite one of the larger crowds of the season, which was sprinkled with local sports stars and celebrities.

    Antoine Walker matched his season high for the Hawks with 36 points, going 6-of-8 from beyond the 3-point arc. He also made a run at a triple-double, pulling down 10 rebounds and doling out eight assists.

    It wasn't enough for Atlanta, especially when O'Neal stepped up with 17 points in the second half.

    "Shaq played an excellent game," teammate Dwyane Wade said. "We tried to get him the ball down low as much as possible. They had no one who could match up with him."

    The Heat were on the verge of blowing the game open in the third quarter. O'Neal took a pass from Wade while hurtling down the lane and got off a monstrous slam, despite getting fouled by Walker. O'Neal made the free throw to finish off the three-point play, which gave Miami a 77-61 lead.

    O'Neal headed to the bench after picking up his third foul, sitting out the final 5:52 of the period. The Hawks took advantage of his absence, putting together a 21-4 run to reclaim the lead. Walker hit a pair of free throws with 6 seconds remaining to make it 82-81.

    "It was tough (to watch)," O'Neal said. "When I'm out, the other guys have got to keep the intensity going. We let up against a team we're supposed to beat."

    But, while the public address announcer was bragging that the Hawks were back in front, Miami raced down the floor. Wade passed to Anderson streaking off the baseline and he slammed over Josh Childress, who was also called for a foul. Anderson sank the free throw to put the Heat ahead 84-82 heading to the final period.

    O'Neal returned for the fourth, and Miami slowly pulled away. Wade finished off the Hawks, soaring above the rim to tip in a lob pass from Damon Jones for a 106-94 lead with 2½ minutes to go.

    Jones also made four 3-pointers, finishing with 18 points. Wade had 19, while the Heat's other starter, Udonis Haslem, scored 17 -- all in the first half.

    Miami finished off a four-game sweep of the Hawks in the season series, and the Heat has won seven in a row against Atlanta going back to last season.

    "We have a lot better players than they do," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said. "At times you're maybe battling overconfidence. But (Woodson has) got a bigger battle on his hands. He just doesn't have as much talent as we do. That's a fact."

    Game notes

    With the victory, the Heat clinched the best winning percentage in the Eastern Conference through games of Feb. 6, so Van Gundy will coach the East in the All-Star game on Feb. 20 in Denver. ... Tyronn Lue added 17 points for the Hawks. ... Eddie Jones didn't play because of flulike symptoms. ... Atlanta G Josh Smith was selected to play in the rookie game during All-Star weekend in Denver next month. ... All five Miami starters had reached double figures by midway through the third quarter.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 106 96
    FGM-FGA 37-78 (.474) 36-71 (.507)
    3PM-3PA 5-13 (.385) 11-19 (.579)
    FTM-FTA 27-37 (.730) 13-20 (.650)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 14-44 4-29
    Assists 26 23
    Turnovers 16 17
    Steals 8 11
    Blocks 5 6
    Fast Break Points 15 16
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 20 (0/0) 29 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 16 5

    Top Performers

    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 26
    Reb: 8
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1
    Antoine Walker Walker
    Points: 36
    Reb: 10
    Ast: 8
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1