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
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
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."
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.