Regular Season Series (Game 3 of 3)

Series starts 11/18

Game 1: Friday, November 18th
Game 2: Friday, December 16th
Game 3: Friday, April 14th

76ers 85

(37-42, 15-24 away)

Heat 104

(52-27, 31-9 home)

Coverage: CSN

7:30 PM ET, April 14, 2006

AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

1 2 3 4 T
PHI 23 16 24 2285
MIA 25 29 30 20104

Top Performers

Phi: A. Iverson 30 Pts, 1 Reb, 3 Ast, 1 Stl

Mia: U. Haslem 24 Pts, 14 Reb, 1 Ast, 5 Stl, 2 Blk

Heat lock up second seed in East, blow out Sixers

MIAMI (AP) -- The phrase is one Pat Riley has repeated often of late, and it was written again in the Miami Heat locker room.

"Finish the task."

His team did just that Friday night.

Dwyane Wade had 25 points and eight assists and Udonis Haslem added a career-high 24 points as the Heat beat the Philadelphia 76ers 104-85 to secure the Eastern Conference's No. 2 playoff seed -- plus home-court advantage for the first two postseason rounds.

"It's good to get this," Riley said. "It doesn't mean much unless you use it."

Haslem's 14 rebounds also tied his season high for the Heat, who got contributions from all over the lineup.

Allen Iverson scored 30 points and Chris Webber added 17 and nine rebounds for the Philadelphia, which lost for the first time in four games and dropped one game behind Chicago for the East's final playoff spot.

"I don't think the loss will make us play any harder," Iverson said. "If you aren't playing hard at this point, then you aren't going to be playing hard anyway."

Antoine Walker scored 16 points, Shaquille O'Neal had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Gary Payton scored 10 points for Miami, which avoided what Riley called "the ultimate nightmare" -- slipping behind New Jersey and finishing as the East's No. 3 seed.

"It feels good," Haslem said. "New Jersey put a tremendous amount of pressure on us. They were breathing down our neck."

Not any more. At least, not until perhaps the second playoff round.

Haslem scored 19 points -- matching what was his season high -- in the first half alone for Miami, which used a 36-12 run over a 12-minute stretch to take control.

"He had 19 at the half and I ran one play for him," Riley said. "He just gets it."

Miami has three regular-season games left; home against Chicago on Sunday, then road trips to Atlanta on Tuesday and Boston on Wednesday. Riley said earlier this week that once the second seed is clinched, the "routine" will change; presumably, that means getting his starters some rest.

"I'm going to do what I'm asked and just try to get ready," said O'Neal, who suffered a bruised thigh toward the end of the 2005 regular season and had the injury hamper him throughout the playoffs. "Hopefully, I won't have any freak injuries like I had last year."

The 76ers visit Orlando -- the NBA's hottest team, winners of seven straight and a club still holding playoff aspirations, albeit slim ones after Chicago's comeback win over Washington -- on Saturday, then host New Jersey on Tuesday and end the regular season Wednesday in Charlotte.

"It hurts a lot, but Chicago has to come here too," Philadelphia's Kyle Korver said. "Hopefully Miami can help us out and set them back. We just have to worry about tomorrow. We have to regroup. It's a must."

Within a 14-second span of the first quarter, the teams had three dunk attempts -- making only one.

Walker was stuffed by the rim with 3:16 left and Andre Iguodala -- one of the league's best dunkers -- missed eight seconds later at the other end. The ball eventually got to Wade, who set up Haslem's second alley-oop slam of the quarter and a 19-15 Miami lead.

Iverson and Steven Hunter had the first two baskets of the second quarter, putting the 76ers up 27-25 with 10:47 left.

It was the 76ers' second lead -- and their last.

Webber scored with 5:39 left, bringing Philadelphia within 41-35, but Haslem had the game's next seven points and helped Miami to a 54-39 halftime lead.

"We were paying so much attention to Shaq," 76ers coach Maurice Cheeks said. "He ... was cleaning up after we doubled Shaq. He was the one standing there, either making a jump shot or cleaning an offensive rebound up."

The run kept going after halftime; Miami opened with the first seven points and the cushion grew to 29 points later in the third.

Philadelphia didn't stop, though, going on an 20-5 run to draw within 86-72 on a jumper by Iverson with 9:01 left. O'Neal scored on a jump hook 14 seconds later to stop the 76ers' burst, and Haslem hit a short jumper with 3:53 left to give Miami a 100-80 lead -- and himself a career-high.

"Our energy got us back in the game," Cheeks said. "But you've got to play perfect when you get down 28 points or so."

Game notes

Heat forward James Posey was active, but didn't play. Posey (sore right Achilles' tendon) may return Sunday. ... Cheeks remained on 199 career wins over his five NBA seasons. ... Heat PG Jason Williams, who hasn't played since April 1 because of a sore knee, could return Sunday. ... Philadelphia has had winning streaks of six, four and three games end against Miami this season.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 85 104
FGM-FGA 32-78 (.410) 40-76 (.526)
3PM-3PA 3-16 (.188) 2-12 (.167)
FTM-FTA 18-29 (.621) 22-29 (.759)
Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-36 12-42
Assists 12 19
Turnovers 20 19
Steals 9 12
Blocks 3 4
Fast Break Points 4 18
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 22 (0/0) 23 (0/0)
Largest Lead 2 29

Top Performers

Allen Iverson Iverson
Points: 30
Reb: 1
Ast: 3
Stl: 1
Blk: 0
Udonis Haslem Haslem
Points: 24
Reb: 14
Ast: 1
Stl: 5
Blk: 2