Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 12/19

Game 1: Sunday, December 19th
Game 2: Saturday, February 26th
Game 3: Sunday, February 27th
Game 4: Wednesday, April 20th

Heat 98

(59-23, 24-17 away)

Magic 93

(36-46, 24-17 home)

    7:00 PM ET, April 20, 2005

    Amway Arena, Orlando, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIA 28 22 25 2398
    ORL 28 29 21 1593

    Top Performers

    Miami: K. Dooling 19 Pts, 5 Ast, 2 Stl

    Orlando: S. Francis 21 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl

    Shaq, Flash watch teammates take over

    ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- The goals for the Miami Heat in their season finale were simple: stay healthy and get the reserves some minutes. If they won, so much the better.

    With Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade watching from the bench, the Heat won their final tuneup before the playoffs, beating the Orlando Magic 98-93 on Wednesday night.

    "I don't know that a win against the Magic really means anything going into the playoffs," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said. "But I was happy with what went on."

    The Heat (59-23) enter the postseason on a three-game winning streak, proving they've snapped out of the funk that developed after they clinched the East's top seed on April 5. They lost four straight after that.

    Miami will open the playoffs against New Jersey on Sunday. The Nets took the eighth and final postseason berth by beating Boston.

    The Heat took all three games from New Jersey, winning by an average of more than 21 points. But Van Gundy noted it has been more than a month since they last played.

    After that 25-point whipping on March 12, New Jersey won 15 of 19 games.

    "We've got a big challenge right there," Van Gundy said. "They're a great defensive team with a great defensive coach. I think the two best teams in the East over the last month and a half have been Detroit and New Jersey."

    The absence of O'Neal for a second straight game was expected. He said his bruised right thigh was getting better, and dismissed any notion that he might sit out Game 1 against the Nets.

    But there was no warning Wade would be a bystander. He played 23 minutes the night before, in a win over Charlotte.

    Wade apparently asked for the night off, understandable considering he is among the league leaders in minutes played.

    With no Miami starter seeing more than 24 minutes of action, the reserves got a serious workout.

    Keyon Dooling scored 19 points in 31 minutes, both season highs, and Van Gundy let rookie forward Dorell Wright cut loose for 22 minutes. Miami's first-round pick, who had seen only five minutes in two games, scored seven points.

    Wright also gave his coach a scare, landing hard on his back after being undercut on a dunk.

    Christian Laettner added 14, 10 in the fourth quarter. His jumper with 1:44 remaining capped a run of 10 unanswered Miami points, and the Heat led 94-90.

    After Dwight Howard's two free throws cut the lead to two, Laettner hit another jumper -- this time with the shot clock running out -- to restore the two-possession advantage. He sank two foul shots with 11.1 seconds for the final margin.

    "The other 10 guys on the team have to feel like 'We can do it,' even if Shaq is hurt or Wade is in foul trouble or whatever," said Laettner, 5-of-7 from the floor. "Tonight's game helped in that regard -- we got a nice win without either of them."

    Howard and Steve Francis led Orlando with 21 points.

    Howard became the first rookie in NBA history to start all 82 games after jumping directly from high school. He also is the ninth rookie in the last 15 seasons to average a double-double.

    "I'm just happy I made it through the season without any injuries," said Howard, who averaged 12 points and 10 rebounds. "I'm glad to finish the season on a good note."

    The Magic (36-46) improved their record by 15 games from last year, but ended the season with 19 losses in their final 24 games. That slump cost Orlando a playoff berth, and cost coach Johnny Davis his job.

    "It's really hard to accept, with the number of talented players that we have, falling short," said interim coach Chris Jent, who finished with a 5-13 record.

    Game notes

    Orlando center Kelvin Cato was not in uniform because of a sore lower back. ... Jeff Turner, Orlando's radio color analyst and a member of the Magic's inaugural squad of 1989-90, called his last game. He is leaving the Magic for an executive position at a local high school, and will coach its basketball team. ... Orlando's season attendance was 597,942 -- a 1.5 percent increase from last season.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 98 93
    FGM-FGA 37-69 (.536) 35-81 (.432)
    3PM-3PA 5-15 (.333) 7-19 (.368)
    FTM-FTA 19-22 (.864) 16-23 (.696)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 6-29 13-36
    Assists 21 10
    Turnovers 21 22
    Steals 12 11
    Blocks 5 2
    Fast Break Points 13 13
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 19 (1/0) 21 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 5 10

    Top Performers

    Keyon Dooling Dooling
    Points: 19
    Reb: 0
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0
    Steve Francis Francis
    Points: 21
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0