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Miami shoots 55 percent in victory

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Miami Heat coach Stan Van Gundy has no
problems with Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade dominating teams
like the struggling New Orleans Hornets. He's just wondering
whether that formula will work as well in the playoffs.

"They've had a couple of those (performances) and lately it's
been a lot of them," Van Gundy said. "I want them to continue to
play that well, but we need to start getting some more production
out of other people."

O'Neal had 34 points and 15 rebounds, Wade scored 33, and the
pair combined for about a dozen dunks to help the Heat defeat the
Hornets 111-99 on Saturday night. Miami needs only one more victory
or a Detroit loss to seal up the top seed in the Eastern Conference
playoffs.

Wade and O'Neal entered the game averaging a combined 47.1
points -- a mark they surpassed in the third quarter, when the Heat
lead by as many as 20.

O'Neal, who won three NBA titles alongside Kobe Bryant with the
Los Angeles Lakers, said he and Wade form an even better 1-2 punch.

"I would say yes, by far," O'Neal said.

Hornets coach Byron Scott even acknowledged that his players
"were intimidated by those two guys."

Damon Jones played his part, too, helping Miami open the large
lead with three 3-pointers in the third quarter. He finished with
22 points. But Miami did most of its scoring inside (64 points),
and shot 55 percent as a result.

"We're one of the best in the league in points in the paint,
but tonight we were dominant inside and that's going to be tough to
beat," Van Gundy said.

Hornets centers Jamaal Magloire and Chris Andersen tried to
defend O'Neal cleanly -- sending him to the foul line only seven
times -- but posed few problems for the imposing center, who
routinely spun by or muscled through them for dunks and easy
layups.

"In this millennium that we live in, the 'Hack-a-Shaq' has
proven not to work," O'Neal said. "It might work a couple games
every now and then, but when it comes to the playoffs or a
championship series, it doesn't work -- not at all."

P.J. Brown scored a season-high 21 in a rare reserve role for
New Orleans, while Speedy Claxton added 18. Dan Dickau scored 14
and Andersen and Casey Jacobsen each scored 13 as New Orleans shot
50 percent. But the Hornets were outrebounded 39-25 and trailed by
double-digits for nearly all of the second half.

"I was trying to be a floor leader, trying to be aggressive,
trying to make my open shots," Brown said.

But it hardly mattered when the Hornets had no answer for O'Neal
and Wade on the other end.

"They're just hard to stop. They're the best one-two tandem in
the league," Brown said. "And the both of them are real good
players, put a lot of pressure on the offense. That's very tough to
handle."

Wade helped Miami set the tone right away, driving the baseline
for a dunk for the game's first score. He had two more driving
dunks in the first 6:30 of the game. O'Neal also had two dunks --
Miami's basket of choice for six of its first seven field goals,
the other being a fast break layup.

With 7:21 still remaining in the first half, Wade had already
dunked four times, tipped in an alley-oop pass and had 24 points in
helping Miami build a 39-31 lead.

"I just wanted to attack right away. I got a couple to the rim
and I was right there so I decided to dunk it," Wade said.

Wade then went to the bench and O'Neal started scoring
relentlessly, following a short jump hook with four more dunks --
one of them a one-handed alley-oop throw down over the back of the
6-foot-11 Andersen.

O'Neal ended up with 17 points by the end of the second quarter,
helping Miami to a 54-44 halftime lead.

Game notes
O'Neal said he sees a correlation between the fortunes of
the Red Sox following their trade of Babe Ruth to the Yankees and
the Los Angeles Lakers following their trade of him to Miami. Miami
has become a favorite to win the Eastern Conference while the
Lakers are in danger of missing the playoffs. "The curse of the
Shaq-bino. That's what it is," O'Neal said, offering a subtle
smile. ... O'Neal, a local favorite from his playing days at LSU,
helped drew an overflow crowd of 18,582 (the largest in three
seasons), marking only the third sellout of the season for New
Orleans. ... With the playoffs long since out of reach, Scott has
begun switching his starting lineup around. Brown, a 12-year
veteran who started New Orleans' first 70 games, was a reserve for
a second straight game and played 24 minutes. ... Eddie Jones
returned from a right ankle sprain that forced him to miss the
Heat's previous game. He played 25 minutes and did not score, but
had four steals to become Miami's all-time steals leader with 462.
He passed Bimbo Coles (458).