Heat, including Shaq, make free throws count in win

MIAMI (AP) -- The Miami Heat sank their field goals early and their free throws late, which was enough to cool off the Los Angeles Clippers.

The Heat tied a franchise record for a quarter by scoring 17 baskets in the first quarter, then made their final eight free throws -- including three by erratic Shaquille O'Neal -- and won 118-114 on Monday night.

It was the third victory in four nights for the Heat, who have won five of their past six. That's the sort of surge coach Pat Riley seeks from his Heat, who have struggled against elite opponents.

"When is it going to start? That's the question I posed to them tonight," Riley said. "When are we going to start beating quality teams? It's time to put up or shut up. That's how I look at it."

The Heat snapped a five-game winning streak by the Clippers, who lost even though they tied their season-high point total.

"We haven't been beating top-10 teams," Miami's Udonis Haslem said. "We felt kind of desperate to get a win. We can beat anybody; we just haven't been doing it."

Dwyane Wade, who clinched the win by making two free throws with eight seconds left, had 28 points, 11 assists and four blocks. O'Neal missed five consecutive free throws during one stretch but still totaled 25 points.

Gary Payton added 19 points and sank a season-high five 3-pointers for the Heat, who had six players in double figures.

"Everybody is sharing the wealth," Payton said. "Everybody is shooting the ball well and sharing the ball."

Elton Brand had 31 points for the Clippers, who lost despite shooting 54 percent. Cuttino Mobley added 28 points and 11 assists.

"We had guys that played well, and some guys that didn't," Mobley said.

Both teams cooled off after a torrid first half. The Heat finished at 55 percent and the Clippers at 54.

"This was an exciting game from beginning to end," Wade said. "Both teams were getting out running and scoring at will."

Miami shot a season-best 67 percent in the first half, while Los Angeles was at 59 percent and trailed 67-62.

The Heat fell behind by six in the third quarter but rallied and took the lead at 85-84. There were four more lead changes to come.

Sam Cassell's 3-pointer put the Clippers up 109-108 with 2:30 to go, but the Heat regained the advantage on two free throws by O'Neal, and James Posey's 3-pointer made it 113-109.

James Singleton's 3-pointer with 9 seconds left cut the margin to 115-114, but Haslem sank one free throw after a foul before the ball was inbounded, and Wade's free throws sealed the win.

The Heat led 42-33 after the first period, their highest-scoring quarter of the season. They made their first eight shots and went 17-for-22 (77 percent) in the quarter.

"They jumped on us," Mobley said. "We knew they wouldn't be hot forever."

The Clippers fell behind 24-9 but came back, making 16 of their first 23 shots. They pulled even at 44-all and took their first lead at 70-69 early in the third quarter.

"We tried to speed up the game and do some things that would benefit us," Brand said. "There was a lot of energy spent coming back from the first-quarter run they had."

Game notes
Miami's Jason Williams, sidelined by a cut on his right ring finger, missed his 15th game this season. ... The Clippers fell to 9-10 on the road. They're 2-12 when giving up more than 100 points.