Final / OT

Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 12/11

Game 1: Sunday, December 11th
Game 2: Friday, December 30th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 8th
Game 4: Saturday, April 8th

Wizards 101

(8-11, 3-7 away)

Heat 104

(11-10, 8-3 home)

Coverage: WBDC

6:00 PM ET, December 11, 2005

AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

1 2 3 4 OT T
WSH 18 30 24 23 6101
MIA 21 21 35 18 9104

Top Performers

WSH: C. Butler 28 Pts, 10 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Blk

Mia: D. Wade 41 Pts, 10 Reb, 8 Ast, 4 Stl, 1 Blk

Shaq has double-double after missing 18 games

MIAMI (AP) -- Playing for the first time in five weeks, Shaquille O'Neal came through in the clutch -- and at the free throw line, of all places.

The NBA's most notoriously erratic foul shooter sank the second of two tries with a second left in regulation to force overtime, and the Miami Heat ended a four-game losing streak by beating Washington 104-101 Sunday night.

Coming off the bench in his first action since a sprained right ankle sidelined him Nov. 3, O'Neal looked rusty but finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, four in overtime. He fouled out with 1:33 left after playing 23 minutes.

"I felt pretty good," O'Neal said. "I just wanted to get my guys going -- bring some energy and spirit to the lineup."

Dwyane Wade scored a season-high 41 points, including the final six for the Heat, and added 10 rebounds and eight assists. But it was O'Neal who sank the shot that kept Miami in the game.

The Wizards led 95-94 with 7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, but the Heat won a jump ball at their end. Wade passed inside to O'Neal, who was immediately fouled.

Nervous, big guy?

"I don't get nervous in any situation," O'Neal said. "There's no such thing as nerves when you're playing games."

His first attempt rimmed out, but after a Miami timeout, he swished the second try.

"I knew I was going to make one," O'Neal said. "I wanted to make two, but the first one rattled in and rattled right out."

O'Neal finished 6-for-16 at the line, not including two misses negated by lane violations.

Washington lost despite season-high scoring performances by reserves Caron Butler and Chucky Atkins. Butler had 28 points and Atkins 26.

"I think we've proven we can play with anybody in the Eastern Conference," Atkins said. "Now we have to learn how to win."

The Heat beat the Wizards for the ninth time in a row. Washington's last win in the series came on April 11, 2003.

Gilbert Arenas, battling tightness in his groin, scored 24 points for Washington but missed 19 of 24 shots. The Wizards, who blew a 14-point fourth-quarter lead Saturday night to Chicago, lost their third game in a row.

Miami's Gary Payton had 21 points and seven rebounds, both season highs.

Wade's basket with 2 minutes left in overtime put Miami ahead to stay, 100-98. He topped 30 for the third game in a row.

"With Dwyane, you almost have to have three defenders," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said.

The game was billed as a tribute to the '70s, with both teams in throwback uniforms. The Heat wore black, pink and orange outfits styled after the Miami Floridians of the ABA, while Washington wore Baltimore Bullets-style uniforms.

Reviews of the apparel were mixed, but some of the basketball was unsightly. Washington shot 39 percent and still led for much of the game. When Atkins scored 11 points in a 3-minute span to help the Wizards take a 46-38 lead, there were scattered boos from the crowd.

O'Neal entered with 5:55 left in the first quarter to an enthusiastic but brief ovation. He scored his first point less than 2 minutes later, making one of two free throws. His first field goal, late in the third quarter, put Miami ahead 66-60.

The Heat went 9-9 during the five weeks O'Neal was sidelined. They're 2-1 with him.

"Words can't express how good it is to see him back out there," teammate Alonzo Mourning said. "I know how frustrating it was for him to be out."

Game notes

The Heat improved to 7-0 at home when leading after one quarter. ... O'Neal came off the bench for the first time since Nov. 22, 2002, for the Los Angeles Lakers against Chicago. ... Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said transition defense has been his biggest disappointment through the first 20 games. ... The Wizards had won their previous two overtime games.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 101 104
FGM-FGA 36-93 (.387) 35-83 (.422)
3PM-3PA 7-24 (.292) 6-20 (.300)
FTM-FTA 22-29 (.759) 28-45 (.622)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 13-48 13-50
Assists 18 15
Turnovers 15 16
Steals 5 8
Blocks 7 7
Fast Break Points 16 11
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 33 (1/0) 28 (0/0)
Largest Lead 10 8

Top Performers

Caron Butler Butler
Points: 28
Reb: 10
Ast: 3
Stl: 0
Blk: 1
Dwyane Wade Wade
Points: 41
Reb: 10
Ast: 8
Stl: 4
Blk: 1