Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/12

Game 1: Saturday, November 12th
Game 2: Friday, January 27th
Game 3: Monday, March 6th
Game 4: Friday, March 24th

Heat 91

(26-18, 12-12 away)

Bobcats 85

(11-33, 7-13 home)

    7:30 PM ET, January 27, 2006

    Time Warner Cable Arena, Charlotte, NC

    1 2 3 4 T
    MIA 14 16 30 3191
    CHA 20 15 25 2585

    Top Performers

    Mia: S. O'Neal 23 Pts, 7 Reb, 5 Ast, 3 Blk

    Cha: P. Brezec 19 Pts, 12 Reb, 1 Stl, 1 Blk

    Shaq scores 23 as Heat rally, top Bobcats

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Forget the struggles against the NBA's top teams and the erratic play against everyone else, Shaquille O'Neal thinks its way too early to determine just how far the Miami Heat will go this season.

    "I don't worry about it yet," O'Neal said after the Heat had to rally to a 91-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night. "I've made it to the (NBA) Finals with a perfect record, I've made it to the Finals with a so-so record, I've made it to the Finals from the fifth spot.

    "So right now, we're in the second spot (in the Eastern Conference) and we're fine. We still have a lot of opportunity to get it done, but its up to us."

    O'Neal had 23 points and Antoine Walker scored 12 of his 15 in the final quarter to help the Heat pull out the win.

    Miami should have easily handled the injury-ravaged Bobcats, but instead trailed through most of the first three quarters. Playing without guards Dwyane Wade and Jason Williams, the Heat were barely able to stick with the Bobcats and had just 30 points at halftime.

    It was disconcerting struggle for a team that is 0-6 this season against the four teams with the best record in the NBA, and needs to rack up the easy wins to keep its front-runner status.

    Coach Pat Riley isn't panicking just yet.

    "I truly believe when all the parts are healthy, I know how good we are," Riley said. "I've said it over and over again and I will continue to say it: I just think this team can do it, can do something special.

    "We know there are going to be nights like these."

    The Heat avoided an embarrassing loss behind Walker, who stepped up in the fourth quarter with three straight baskets to finally put Miami in control and hand the Bobcats their 10th consecutive loss.

    "It's real important to get him, he's our missing link," O'Neal said. " He's going to be our Robert Horry. We need him to step up and hit shots and be consistent with the high percentage shot."

    Charlotte started down five players -- three starters -- then lost Brevin Knight for the entire second half with a concussion. Knight was injured when he ran into Gary Payton early in the first quarter but played on, only to be told by team doctors not to go back out after halftime.

    "This year is getting ridiculous," Charlotte coach Bernie Bickerstaff said. "I've never seen anything like this. I guess I won't be able to say that again because we're experiencing it now."

    With Knight gone, it left the Bobcats too shorthanded to hold off a Heat rally.

    "We went out there and played our hardest and put ourselves in good position to win the game," Charlotte's Melvin Ely said. "Then once again we got bit by that bug of somebody going down in the game. Our leader left us, we tried to maintain it and it just slipped away."

    Udonis Haslem scored 17 for Miami and Payton added 11.

    Matt Carroll scored 20 off the bench to lead Charlotte. Primoz Brezec had 19 points and 12 rebounds, while Ely and Raymond Felton scored 15 each.

    The Bobcats held on to a slight lead for most of the first three quarters, but they never could pull away from the Heat.

    Haslem then gave Miami its first lead since the first quarter when he opened the fourth with a jumper for a 62-60 lead. The Heat followed it with three consecutive baskets by Walker to slowly take control of the game.

    Alonzo Mourning added a short hook shot to make it 70-60, then Walker was left open in the corner to hit a 3 -- capping a stretch that saw Charlotte shoot 0-for-5 with three turnovers.

    Brezec later scored five straight points to pull Charlotte within 82-76, but Miami ended the run when O'Neal tried to dunk in a loose ball, missed, tried to tap in the rebound, missed again, but stuck with it for a layup that drew a foul. He made the free throw to put the Heat up 85-76 with 55 seconds to go.

    "A game that could have been very, very ugly for us turned out to be a win," Riley said. "That's all that counts."

    Game notes

    The Heat are tuning out criticism they received following Thursday's loss to Phoenix. "I am totally indifferent to what other people think," Riley said. "There are always going to be people trying to take you apart. But I do know if we are 0-6 against the top teams, there is room for improvement." ... NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne teamed with Bobcats forward Emeka Okafor to host 50 students and chaperones as part of their "Team 950" foundation that provides opportunities for disadvantaged children. Because Okafor is out with a sprained ankle, he was able to sit with the kids for a part of the game. ... Mourning, who spent three years in Charlotte as a member of the Hornets, got a rousing ovation when he checked in late in the first quarter.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 91 85
    FGM-FGA 36-76 (.474) 33-80 (.413)
    3PM-3PA 5-22 (.227) 7-19 (.368)
    FTM-FTA 14-20 (.700) 12-16 (.750)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-42 9-35
    Assists 21 20
    Turnovers 14 13
    Steals 4 7
    Blocks 5 2
    Fast Break Points 8 16
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (1/0) 18 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 13 12

    Top Performers

    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 23
    Reb: 7
    Ast: 5
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 3
    Primoz Brezec Brezec
    Points: 19
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 0
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 1