1:00 PM ET, January 30, 2005
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
MIAMI (AP) -- Stan Van Gundy's mood was somber. A steamed Shaquille O'Neal skipped postgame interviews.
Good thing the Miami Heat won, or the fallout may have been worse.
Wade had 12 of his points in the fourth quarter for Miami, which won its third straight -- and improved Stan Van Gundy's record to 2-1 when facing his brother, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy. It's not a matchup either coach looks forward to, and winning simply doesn't feel the same when it comes at a sibling's expense.
"On nights that he loses, you feel bad," Stan Van Gundy said. "I'd rather not have to do it, but we have to. It's not as much fun as the other times."
Foul trouble limited O'Neal to 27 minutes; he had 15 points and five rebounds, but did come up with a crucial three-point play in the final minute to help seal the win.
Udonis Haslem hit his first seven shots from the floor and finished with 16 for Miami, as did Damon Jones. Eddie Jones added 11, meaning all five Heat starters hit double figures for the second straight game.
"I think guys are getting more comfortable in their role, taking shots when they're there," Wade said. "Hopefully that continues. That'll mean we'll be at our best come playoff time."
Tracy McGrady had 28 points -- on 10-of-26 shooting -- for Houston, which had won three straight road games. Yao Ming had 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter for the Rockets, and Bob Sura added 21 -- 15 of those coming in the game's first 13 minutes.
The Rockets were just 1-of-12 from 3-point range in the second half, allowed the Heat to shoot 50 percent for the game and turned 12 Miami turnovers into only three points.
"We are making a lot of mistakes," Jeff Van Gundy said. "We are having a lot of trouble with the pick and roll. Some reasons for the defensive problems are obvious and others are just because we are not doing the job right."
Including the playoffs, it was the eighth time in 12 meetings that O'Neal came away victorious from a matchup against Yao. But the matchup of the two leading votegetters for this year's All-Star game didn't exactly turn into a memorable showdown.
Both marquee centers missed long stretches with foul trouble; O'Neal also drew a third-quarter technical foul when he argued that he was fouled by Yao.
The Rockets got within 71-70 when McGrady hit a jumper with 1:38 left in the third, but Miami scored the next seven points -- the last five on consecutive Eddie Jones jumpers to open the fourth quarter -- and maintained its lead throughout the final period.
"Our defense wasn't great tonight," Sura said. "They played pretty good offensively, and we just had a hard time guarding them."
The teams combined for 83 points in the half's opening 18 minutes, then managed only 11 in the six minutes leading to halftime. Miami missed seven of its final nine shots before intermission; Houston was worse, misfiring on eight of nine -- including its last seven tries.
Both teams even missed a dunk in the waning minutes of the half; Yao threw the ball into the back of the rim after collecting an offensive rebound, and Wade failed to convert a high-flying attempt after a baseline drive about a minute later.
Miami led by just two points at the break, 48-46, despite outshooting Houston 54.1 percent to 39.0 percent. It was only the 20th time in 46 games where the Heat held a halftime lead.
Damon Jones, the 3-point-happy Miami guard, was 5-for-8 from inside the arc. "I'm trying to enter the two-point shooting contest for All-Star weekend," said Jones, who's third leaguewide in 3-pointers made this season. ... Haslem and Sura were each 5-of-5 from the floor in the first half and led their teams in scoring at the break, yet neither was much of a factor at any point in the second quarter. Sura didn't have any shots or points in the final 11:09; Haslem none in the last 9:51. ... Yao, Wade and O'Neal each had two fouls before any other player was whistled for a single one. ... O'Neal didn't get to the foul line until 8:49 remained in the game; he averaged an NBA-best 11.1 attempts per game coming in. ... Among the celebs in attendance were rapper Jay-Z and saxophonist Clarence Clemons of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, along with former Heat players Glen Rice and Alonzo Mourning.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||35-81 (.432)||37-74 (.500)|
|3PM-3PA||5-22 (.227)||6-14 (.429)|
|FTM-FTA||20-21 (.952)||24-29 (.828)|
|Fast Break Points||4||12|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||26 (1/0)||19 (2/0)|