8:00 PM ET, February 2, 2006
AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL
MIAMI (AP) -- The trio of newly picked All-Star starters each played as though they deserved the honor. Fortunately for the Miami Heat, two of those players were on their side.
Dwyane Wade had 24 points and six assists, Shaquille O'Neal had 21 points and eight rebounds and the Heat used a pair of big scoring bursts to defeat Cleveland 101-73 on Thursday night and snap the Cavaliers' seven-game winning streak.
The Heat used a 22-0 first-half run to build a lead and then went on a 19-1 burst in the fourth quarter to seal the Cavaliers' biggest loss this season. Wade and O'Neal capped it with a flurry of highlight-reel plays in the final minutes, helping Miami reach a season-best 11 games above .500.
"No question, this is one of the best games we've played thus far this year, especially playing against a team that's been playing exceptionally well of late," Wade said. "We would like to see more of this. And I think we're getting there."
O'Neal was selected to his 13th All-Star team earlier Thursday and Wade was voted into the midseason showcase as a starter for the first time. Joining them will be LeBron James, the East's leading vote-getter -- who had 29 points, seven assists and five rebounds for the Cavaliers.
But no other Cleveland player reached double figures, and a stretch of four games in five nights clearly taxed the Cavaliers. Cleveland cut what was a 26-point deficit early in the third quarter down to nine late in that period but shot just 4-for-22 in the final 12 minutes.
"You don't give up," James said. "We still made our run. It never got to a point where we gave up on ourselves. But when you make a run down those many points, it's hard to make another run."
"I'm tired of hearing it. Tired of hearing about how, well, we keep shooting ourselves in the foot or we're not doing this or we're not doing that," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "Somewhere, you've got to take responsibility for who you think you are."
Miami led 59-33 with 9:36 left in the third quarter before Cleveland rallied. Drew Gooden's tip-in with 7:22 left in the third capped an 11-1 run, and the Cavaliers later cut the deficit to 71-62 on Anderson Varejao's layup with 1:32 remaining in the period.
The Cavaliers got within 10 on another basket by Varejao early in the fourth, but Miami scored the game's next 13 points -- capped by Wade dunking an alley-oop pass from Jason Williams with 5:22 left to push the Heat's lead back to 91-68.
"When it went from  to nine, I wasn't very happy," Riley said. "I was thinking that the worst nightmare was going to be coming our way. We gathered ourselves very quickly."
O'Neal sealed the win with two fan-pleasing plays.
First, he took an entry pass from Williams with 4:35 left and was immediately fouled by Cleveland's Alan Henderson. So O'Neal simply flipped the ball over his shoulder -- and into the basket.
And about 90 seconds later, Wade dribbled up the left sideline and around Cleveland's Sasha Pavlovic, who tried cutting his progress off around the midcourt stripe. Wade sidestepped Pavlovic, retrieved the ball and threw a long alley-oop to O'Neal -- who threw the dunk down.
"It looks like we're on our way," O'Neal said. "We just have to keep it going. We know what it takes for us to play at that level."
Miami shot 52 percent, compared to 34 percent by the Cavaliers.
James' layup with 1:37 left in the opening quarter drew Cleveland to 21-15, but Miami quickly took command -- scoring the next 22 points, including 19 straight to open the second quarter.
Wade had seven points and Walker six during the burst, part of a stretch during which Cleveland missed 13 consecutive attempts from the field.
"Any time you face a team with five NBA All-Stars on the road, you can't afford to go down double digits and expect to come back," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said.
Former Miami guard Damon Jones, in his first game back since signing with Cleveland during the offseason, finished with three points on 1-for-6 shooting. He was booed after making a 3-pointer early, and the fans cheered later in the half when he missed a pair of free throws.
Williams returned after missing four games with a lacerated finger. He had four points and eight assists in 26 minutes. ... It was Cleveland's first loss since Pavlovic entered the starting lineup eight games ago -- and since James started wearing tights under his game shorts, saying the accessory helps his knee. ... Wade and O'Neal were presented with their All-Star warmup jackets in a brief pregame ceremony. ... Cavs center Zydrunas Ilgauskas missed about 12 minutes midway through the first half after dislocating a finger on his right hand.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||29-86 (.337)||43-83 (.518)|
|3PM-3PA||6-20 (.300)||6-15 (.400)|
|FTM-FTA||9-19 (.474)||9-17 (.529)|
|Fast Break Points||11||21|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||21 (0/1)|