Heat extend win streak to seven in win over Celtics

BOSTON (AP) -- After struggling through three quarters, Antoine
Walker came through when it mattered most against his old team.

Dwyane Wade had 24 points and eight assists, Walker scored all
of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, and the Miami Heat extended
their winning streak to seven with a 103-96 victory over the Boston
Celtics on Wednesday night.

"Any time you come back and beat your old team, it has
meaning," said Walker, who spent the first seven years of his
career with the Celtics. "In the fourth quarter, I just told
myself to be aggressive."

Shaquille O'Neal added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Heat,
who had six players score in double figures and outscored the
Celtics 56-32 in the paint.

Wade, the Eastern Conference player of the month for February,
shot 7-of-15 from the field and was 10-of-16 from the free throw
line. He also had five rebounds for the Heat, who have won 12 of 14
and improved to 26-10 since Pat Riley took over for Stan Van Gundy
as coach Dec. 12.

Paul Pierce, who set a Celtics record by averaging 33.5 points
per game in February, scored 38 points. Delonte West had 20 and
Wally Szczerbiak added 12 for the Celtics.

Walker, making his first appearance in Boston since been traded
to the Heat in the offseason, was 0-of-4 from the floor through
three quarters. But he was 5-of-7 in the fourth, including 3-of-5
from beyond the 3-point line, as the Celtics' two-game winning
streak ended.

"In the second half and fourth quarter, you could see he was
ready to make the shots," Wade said. "When you got veteran guys
like 'Toine coming off the bench, they won't let you lose."

The Heat led by as many as 11 early in the fourth quarter, but
West and Ryan Gomes sparked a Boston rally.

After Shandon Anderson's free throw gave the Heat an 80-70 lead
with 9:47 remaining, West hit two consecutive 3-pointers to pull
Boston within 80-76.

Walker then made a 3-pointer to extend Miami's lead to 85-78,
but Raef LaFrentz and West made back-to-back 3-pointers and Gomes
hit a 21-foot jumper to make it 86-85 and give Boston its first
lead since early in the third quarter.

After the teams traded baskets, Walker gave Miami the lead for
good when his layup made it 90-88 with 4:44 remaining.

Walker's third 3-pointer of the fourth then pushed Miami's lead
to 100-94 with 55 seconds remaining.

"You've got to pick your poison with them," Pierce said.
"We're doubling Shaq and paying so much attention to Wade, we
leave Antoine open. He was able to step up and knock down some

Anderson scored a season-high 15 points and Jason Williams added
13 points and nine assists for Miami.

After scoring 28 first-quarter points, Boston managed just 40 in
the second and third quarters combined. O'Neal had three blocked
shots and Alonzo Mourning had two for Miami.

"I thought we really lost our intensity," Celtics coach Doc
Rivers said. "We started watching them play for a while, and I
thought that really hurt us."

Al Jefferson, who returned after missing nine games with a
sprained right ankle, contributed seven points and five rebounds
for the Celtics.

Jefferson scored the first five points of the second quarter to
extend Boston's lead to 33-26.

But Anderson scored six in the second quarter to help the Heat
chip away at the lead and pull to within 48-46 at halftime.

Game notes
The Heat have shot better than 50 percent from the
field in a franchise-record six consecutive games. ... The Heat
were 6-of-17 from the free throw line in the first half. ... Pierce
is the only player in the NBA to lead his team in points, rebounds,
assists and steals per game. ... The Celtics fell to 5-3 with Gomes
in the starting lineup. ...Riley was the Eastern Conference coach
of the month for February. The Heat went 8-2 in the month. ... The
Celtics have yet to win three consecutive games this year.