SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Miami Heat are playing well enough
that Shaq can take his time recovering from knee surgery. No rush
on Riles, either.
The Heat extended their longest winning streak of the season to
four games with a 119-110 victory over the Utah Jazz on Saturday,
getting within two games of .500 with one game left on a long
Western Conference road trip.
"We're playing with a lot of confidence. We've got our
so-called swagger back," said Dwyane Wade, who led the Heat with
32 points and 10 assists.
Wade made 21 of 23 free throws and Miami improved to 4-1 on its
six-game trip, which concludes Monday against the Los Angeles
Lakers. The Heat are also 4-2 since Ron Rothstein took over as
interim coach for Pat Riley.
Riley is out indefinitely while he recovers from hip surgery.
Shaquille O'Neal is getting closer to returning at center, although
he's waiting for his left knee to regain its strength before he
plays on it again.
And the suddenly surging Heat can wait.
"We've done a pretty good job of circling the wagons and
covering for one another and now we're starting to see the
results," Rothstein said.
The game took nearly three hours, as the teams shot a combined
99 free throws. The Heat were far better at the line, going
42-for-45 while giving the Jazz their first three-game losing
streak of the season.
Although Utah made a brief threat early in the fourth quarter,
Miami controlled the tempo nearly all game.
"It looked to me like they walked the ball up the court every
time and they come out of the ballgame with 119 points," Utah
coach Jerry Sloan said. "We had 110 and we ran it up the court as
hard as we could."
Carlos Boozer led the Jazz with 29 points and 14 rebounds. Matt
Harpring scored 18 points for Utah and Deron Williams added 19
points and five assists.
The Heat led by 22 in the third quarter and let Utah get within
seven early in the fourth before Miami regrouped and led
comfortably the rest of the way.
Jason Williams scored 20 for Miami and Jason Kapono added 18
points, going 4-of-5 from 3-point range as the Heat continued to
surge even without Shaq.
"We're making shots. We're getting good shots," Rothstein
said. "We're starting to develop a real confidence in what we can
do and that goes a long way."
The Heat only faltered once and quickly corrected it after Utah
cut a 22-point margin to single digits early in the fourth quarter.
The Jazz trailed 97-84 at the end of the third, then opened the
fourth with an 8-2 run.
Boozer made back-to-back jumpers to cut the lead to 99-92 and
the Heat called time. Miami regrouped during the stoppage and
scored the next 10 points. Wade started it with two free throws,
Udonis Haslem added two more from the line and Kapono made two
3-pointers to put the Heat back in command.
During the run, the Heat got a scare with about 8 minutes left
when Wade took a shoulder to the face from Harpring as Harpring was
running past him. Wade dropped to the floor and stayed there for a
few minutes as the Heat called time.
After toweling his face off, Wade went right back out there and
got a small cheer from the Utah fans.
The only time they cheered again was when Sloan got a late
technical when Wade went to the line -- again.
Alonzo Mourning added 13 points for the Heat. ... Andrei
Kirilenko and Mehmet Okur scored 11 apiece for the Jazz. ... The
Heat beat the Jazz for the sixth straight time. ... Wade made all
10 of his free throws in the first quarter, while the Jazz were
just 2-for-7 from the line. ... Miami's 64 points were the most
Utah allowed in the first half this season.