MIAMI (AP) -- The legs got weary at the end, a byproduct of
playing four games in five nights. Yet by the time fatigue set in,
the Miami Heat had such a big lead that their latest winning streak
was never in jeopardy.
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Dwyane Wade scored 32 points, Shaquille O'Neal added 25 and
Miami shot 68.6 percent in the first half on the way to beating the
Philadelphia 76ers 108-100 on Monday night -- the Heat's sixth
straight win and 10th in a row at home.
"We just have to worry about what we're supposed to worry about
and keep beating the teams we're supposed to beat," O'Neal said.
"Keep winning at home, and keep staying above .500 on the road. If
we do those things, then by that formula itself things will work
Wade made 18 free throws to set a franchise record; he got to
the line 23 times. Shandon Anderson added 13 points, and Udonis
Haslem had a 12-point, 10-rebound night for Miami (46-16), which
has an eight-game lead over Detroit in the Eastern Conference and
an 11-game edge over Washington in the Southeast Division.
Over the four-game, five-night stretch, Miami won by an average
of 16.3 points.
"It doesn't feel easy, I'll tell you that," Wade said. "Right
now, we're all playing together. Everyone's touching the ball.
Everyone's happy playing with each other and if it looks easy, it's
because of that."
Allen Iverson, who missed the morning shootaround, scored 27
points on 8-for-19 shooting for Philadelphia, which saw its modest
two-game winning streak end. Samuel Dalembert added 21 points for
the 76ers, who got only 10 points in 26 minutes from Chris Webber.
"We clearly didn't have what it takes to win tonight against a
quality team," said Philadelphia coach Jim O'Brien, whose club
fell a half-game behind Indiana in the chase for the East's eighth
and final playoff spot.
Wade and O'Neal scored 26 of Miami's 28 third-quarter points,
and helped the Heat build a 22-point margin in the period. Willie
Green had six late points to draw Philadelphia (28-30) within
eight, but the 76ers got no closer.
Philadelphia outscored Miami 29-17 in the fourth quarter,
holding the Heat to 30.8- percent shooting, outrebounding them 10-8
and forcing four turnovers. But by then, the Heat's struggles were
irrelevant -- and the team gets a well-deserved break from practice
"I'm sleeping until noon, then getting up, having lunch and
taking a nap," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Obviously, I was
really happy tonight."
Miami had its highest-scoring first half of the season, opening
a 63-50 lead at intermission behind 17 points from Wade and 11 from
Anderson -- who had 11 or more points in only four of his previous
O'Neal made Miami's first four shot attempts of the second half,
all from close range to push Miami's margin to 73-55. The lead got
up to 79-59 with 6:51 left, before Dalembert keyed a 7-0 run.
He scored to start the burst, then blocked an O'Neal shot --
Shaq's first miss in nine tries -- setting up a 3-pointer from Kyle
Korver. And when Korver scored on the next trip, Philadelphia was
within 13 at 79-66.
But Miami put the game away with an 11-3 run over a 2½-minute
stretch, taking a 90-69 lead. O'Neal scored the first five points,
Wade followed with consecutive baskets, and O'Neal finished the
burst by catching a three-quarter-court pass from Damon Jones and
throwing down a monster dunk.
"You can't play him with one guy," Iverson said. "You really
need to have five on him, but you can't do that in this league and
get away with it. You can double-team him down there, but then
he'll kick it out and make things happen for the other guys."
Heat G Eddie Jones battled foul trouble all night, was
0-for-5 and didn't score. ... Miami is 30 games over .500 for the
first time since April 1998. ... Iverson was honored Monday as the
Eastern Conference player of the week, the third time this season
he was taken the award. He averaged 37.3 points in Philadelphia's
four games last week. "Well deserved," O'Brien said. ... Before
the game, Miami activated G Steve Smith from the injured list and
sent C Wang Zhi-Zhi (upper respiratory infection) to the list. ...
The now-obligatory "We want Zo!" chant from the Miami crowd began
late in the third quarter. Alonzo Mourning came in with 4:20 left,
scored one point and was ejected with 26.5 seconds left after
drawing a double-technical following an altercation with Dalembert.