Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 1/1

Game 1: Saturday, January 1st
Game 2: Friday, February 11th
Game 3: Saturday, March 26th
Game 4: Tuesday, April 19th

Bobcats 80

(17-64, 4-37 away)

Heat 99

(58-23, 35-6 home)

    7:30 PM ET, April 19, 2005

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    CHA 25 21 19 1580
    MIA 30 27 20 2299

    Top Performers

    Cha: J. Kapono 14 Pts, 2 Reb, 2 Ast, 3 Stl

    Mia: R. Butler 25 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Stl

    Minutes plentiful for Heat players as Shaq rests

    MIAMI (AP) -- Not only did the Miami Heat get their regulars plenty of rest, they might have found another scorer for the postseason.

    Rasual Butler -- who had only three double-digit scoring games since Feb. 1 -- got a career-high 25 points, leading the Heat to a 99-80 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday night.

    The Heat, playing without injured Shaquille O'Neal, also got 14 points from Dwyane Wade in their final home game of the regular season. Wade played only 23 minutes, leaving with 3:10 left in the third quarter.

    "I've been practicing really hard, doing a lot of praying and just waiting for my next opportunity," said Butler, who opened the year as a starter before being relegated to a reserve role. "I hoped that when I was given it, I would seize the moment."

    He did, scoring 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting in the fourth quarter and helping fuel Miami's game-ending 18-7 run. With Butler leading the way, Miami's reserves outscored Charlotte's 45-36.

    "It would be very big to bring a guy off the bench and get buckets while Dwyane and Eddie Jones and those guys get a little rest," said Udonis Haslem, who had 10 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for Miami. "For him to come off the bench and do what he does best, it would be a great boost for us."

    Keith Bogans, Jason Kapono and Melvin Ely each had 14 points for the Bobcats, who end their inaugural season at home Wednesday against Detroit. Matt Carroll added 11 points for Charlotte.

    "They're getting ready for that playoff run," said Bobcats rookie Emeka Okafor, who had eight points and nine rebounds. "They're tightening up all their nuts and bolts. They were really on target tonight."

    Alonzo Mourning had 11 points and Eddie Jones 10 for Miami, which delivered coach Stan Van Gundy's 100th regular-season victory. Since a 5-15 start last season, Van Gundy's teams are 95-48 -- a .664 winning percentage.

    Miami had 11 players log at least 14 minutes -- but no one played more than 28 in the penultimate game of the regular season. The Heat visit Orlando on Wednesday, then open the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at home Sunday against either Cleveland, Philadelphia or New Jersey.

    "It was good to get everybody in there and some time," Van Gundy said. "That was a real positive thing. But the more positive thing was to play the game well and sharply. We didn't shoot it particularly well, other than Rasual -- who was on fire."

    Van Gundy expects to have O'Neal back for the playoff opener. He missed his fourth game in the last seven, sidelined by a bruised right thigh sustained in Sunday's win over Indiana. The team placed him on the injured list before the game, ruling him out for the finale in Orlando.

    Butler had 13 points in the first half, helping the Heat take a 57-46 lead. Yet until the latter stages, Miami couldn't shake the Bobcats -- the only Southeast team to defeat the Heat in 15 divisional games this season.

    Ely scored with 9:26 left to bring the Bobcats within 81-73 -- but the Heat forced the Bobcats into missing 10 of their next 11 shots. Charlotte had its second-lowest point total in its last 18 games.

    "They are primed and ready for the playoffs," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "They did a good job on us defensively. Their defense swarmed all night."

    Miami went 35-6 at home, the second-best home mark in the NBA this season.

    Charlotte finished with a 4-37 road record. The last team to win fewer road games was Cleveland, which went 3-38 away from home in 2002-03. Atlanta, which ends its season Wednesday in Philadelphia, also has only four road wins this season.

    Game notes

    O'Neal and Philadelphia wide receiver Terrell Owens chatted after the game. Owens did not speak with reporters. ... Miami has had four different scoring leaders in its last four games. ... Miami had a 52-39 rebounding edge. ... San Antonio's 38-3 home mark was the league's best, three games ahead of the Heat. ... Miami was called for three technical fouls in the game's first 5:41; two for defensive 3-second violations and another against Mourning. Charlotte made one of the three free throws. ... Bobcats F Malik Allen, the former Heat player who was sent to Charlotte earlier this season for G Steve Smith, received a warm ovation from the Miami crowd. ... Wright checked into the game with 3:30 left, getting his second appearance of the season. He went 0-for-2, with one rebound and one assist.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 80 99
    FGM-FGA 30-75 (.400) 37-84 (.440)
    3PM-3PA 1-12 (.083) 8-25 (.320)
    FTM-FTA 19-26 (.731) 17-25 (.680)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 4-39 12-52
    Assists 16 22
    Turnovers 15 12
    Steals 7 8
    Blocks 1 6
    Fast Break Points 11 11
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 21 (3/0)
    Largest Lead 2 22

    Top Performers

    Jason Kapono Kapono
    Points: 14
    Reb: 2
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0
    Rasual Butler Butler
    Points: 25
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 0