Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 11/4

Game 1: Thursday, November 4th
Game 2: Thursday, February 3rd
Game 3: Sunday, March 6th

Heat 102

(45-16, 21-11 away)

Cavaliers 82

(31-27, 21-8 home)

7:30 PM ET, March 6, 2005

Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

1 2 3 4 T
MIA 24 31 26 21102
CLE 25 19 18 2082

Top Performers

Mia: U. Haslem 18 Pts, 11 Reb, 1 Ast, 2 Blk

Cle: L. James 23 Pts, 4 Reb, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

Heat off to best start in franchise history

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The big birthday boy barely broke a sweat.

Shaquille O'Neal spent much of his 33rd birthday in foul trouble but Eddie Jones scored 19 points, Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem added 18 apiece and the Heat won their fifth straight, 102-82 over the collapsing Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night.

"This team doesn't have to depend on just one or two guys," said Wade, who added 10 rebounds. "It's a unit."

O'Neal played just 19 minutes in the first three quarters, but the Heat actually played better without their All-Star center. While O'Neal sat out with four fouls, Miami outscored Cleveland 18-8 over the final 6:23 of the third to take control.

O'Neal finished with 13 points, five rebounds and six assists in 27 minutes of his third game back after missing four games with a sprained left knee.

After singing in the showers along with a few teammates, O'Neal left without talking to reporters. However, he did stop to sign autographs and pose for pictures outside Miami's locker room.

Miami, off to its best start in franchise history, has won 12 of 14.

"Right now, we're playing good and we have a lot of confidence," Wade said. "When we get a lead now, we're keeping the lead. Guys are stepping up."

LeBron James scored 23 points for the Cavaliers, who have lost six straight, seven of eight and look nothing like the team that led the Central Division for much of the first half of the season.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas added 22 points and Drew Gooden 11 points and 13 rebounds for Cleveland, which got outrebounded 55-40.

"We could easily go down the toilet and not make the playoffs," James said. "It's not happy around here and I don't like being a part of this losing."

Down by 11 at the half, the Cavaliers appeared to catch a big break when O'Neal picked up his fourth foul midway through the third period and had to take a seat. The Heat, though, moved more fluidly on the offensive end without the middle plugged up and ripped off a 14-2 spurt to take a 77-56 lead.

The Cavaliers, meanwhile, settled for too many jump shots and made only 6 of 23 attempts in the third.

Cavaliers coach Paul Silas is frustrated with how his team has allowed a once promising season to erode. Suddenly, making the playoffs isn't a certainty.

"I just don't see the fire," Silas said. "All the things that we had at one time, we've lost it. We didn't fight."

Early in the fourth, Eddie Jones, Keyon Dooling and Damon Jones hit 3-pointers as Miami built its lead to 22 and Cleveland fans began to drown out the incessant music in the arena with boos.

Midway through the quarter, Silas decided he had seen enough and benched his starters with the Heat up 94-74.

O'Neal played just three minutes in the first quarter when he picked up his second personal and had to sit. But even with Miami's big man out, the Cavaliers couldn't take advantage and only led 25-24 after one.

O'Neal didn't score his first points until early in the second quarter -- a Shaq-like dunk that put him in 17th place on the NBA's scoring list, two points ahead of Adrian Dantley (23,177).

However, O'Neal's frustration surfaced a few minutes later when he yelled, "Let's clean this (stuff) up," at referee Sean Corbin and got slapped with a technical. But the big fella settled down, scoring 11 points in the period as the Heat outscored the Cavaliers 31-19 to take a 55-44 halftime lead.

Game notes

The Cavs are 0-3 since Dan Gilbert took over as owner. ... Miami's 55 rebounds were a season high. ... Next up on the career points list for O'Neal is Robert Parrish, who finished with 23,334 points. ... Guard Rod Strickland, waived last week by Houston, sat in a courtside seat near Cleveland's bench. ... Cavs rookie F Anderson Varejao missed his third straight game after reinjuring his left ankle. He missed 14 consecutive games earlier this season. Silas said Varejao has been fitted with a special cast, but that he's running better. ... Even at 6-8 and a generous 300 pounds, Cleveland's Robert Traylor said he gets pushed around by O'Neal. "He makes you feel like a little kid," Traylor said. "All you can do is hope he misses. It's not fun." ... Rams All-Pro tackle Orlando Pace and Browns TE Kellen Winslow Jr. attended the game. ... O'Neal has blocked a shot in 19 straight games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 102 82
FGM-FGA 41-92 (.446) 32-80 (.400)
3PM-3PA 7-19 (.368) 0-8 (.000)
FTM-FTA 13-20 (.650) 18-26 (.692)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 20-55 13-40
Assists 26 20
Turnovers 14 13
Steals 7 8
Blocks 5 6
Fast Break Points 4 12
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 18 (1/0) 19 (0/0)
Largest Lead 22 5

Top Performers

Udonis Haslem Haslem
Points: 18
Reb: 11
Ast: 1
Stl: 0
Blk: 2
LeBron James James
Points: 23
Reb: 4
Ast: 5
Stl: 2
Blk: 0