Regular Season Series (Game 4 of 4)

Series starts 11/18

Game 1: Saturday, November 18th
Game 2: Monday, March 5th
Game 3: Wednesday, March 21st
Game 4: Monday, March 26th

Hawks 89

(27-45, 12-24 away)

Heat 106

(38-32, 24-12 home)

    Coverage: FSS

    7:30 PM ET, March 26, 2007

    AmericanAirlines Arena, Miami, FL

    1 2 3 4 T
    ATL 22 30 17 2089
    MIA 28 29 25 24106

    Top Performers

    Atl: J. Smith 20 Pts, 6 Reb, 4 Ast, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    Mia: S. O'Neal 22 Pts, 11 Reb, 2 Ast, 1 Blk

    O'Neal shines from free-throw line (12-of-20) in milestone game

    Associated Press

    MIAMI -- After one particularly hard foul sent Shaquille O'Neal tumbling, the 7-foot-1 center rolled into a backward somersault before bouncing to his feet.

    "I'm known as The Big Baryshnikov," O'Neal said afterward, proud of his newest self-dubbed moniker.

    Elias Says
    The Hawks (32 fouls) were whistled for 18 more fouls than the Heat (14) Monday night. That matched the largest difference in personal fouls for two teams in an NBA game this season. On Jan. 17, Portland (33) committed 18 more fouls than Cleveland (15).

    • Read more Elias Says.

    Suffice to say, no ballet ever called for Mikhail Baryshnikov to take this kind of punishment.

    O'Neal shook off double -- and triple-teams -- and incessant hacking nearly every time he got position down low -- to score 22 points, passing Reggie Miller for 12th on the NBA's career list and leading the Miami Heat to a four-game season sweep of the Atlanta Hawks with an 106-89 win on Monday night.

    The win, combined with Washington's loss at Utah, put the Heat -- who were 7 1/2 games behind the Wizards on Jan. 30 -- alone in first place in the Southeast Division by a half-game, and vaulted the defending NBA champions from sixth to third in the Eastern Conference standings.

    O'Neal entered the night 10 points behind Miller's 25,279, and passed the former Indiana star with a free throw midway through the first half. That was fitting, since the Hawks sent him to the foul line a season-high 20 times. O'Neal made 12, another season-best, and finished with 11 rebounds.

    "It just shows how the other opponent quits," O'Neal said of the foul-often strategy. "Can't stop him. Foul him."

    James Posey scored 19 points, shot 6-for-9 and finished with his second-best scoring night of the season for the Heat. Jason Williams had 14 points and Eddie Jones scored 13 for the Heat, who beat the Hawks for the 18th time in the last 21 meetings between the teams.

    Salim Stoudamire had 22 points off the bench for Atlanta, while Josh Smith had 20 and Marvin Williams added 14 for the Hawks, who've lost four straight.

    "They exposed us inside with Shaq," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Everything went through Shaq. We got in foul trouble and he made his free throws."

    The Hawks sent Miami to the line a season-high-tying 45 times, largely because of their penchant for surrounding -- then clobbering -- O'Neal.

    Lorenzen Wright started at center against O'Neal, and picked up four fouls in his seven minutes. Shelden Williams came off the bench, drawing four fouls in 15 minutes. Esteban Batista was called for five fouls in 13 minutes spent primarily guarding Miami's biggest man, and hit O'Neal so often in the third quarter that Jason Williams turned to the scorer's table and asked how many infractions he was allowed.

    In the fourth, the Hawks asked Solomon Jones to take a turn -- and he promptly fouled O'Neal four times in five minutes.

    "We tried to make him earn it from the line and he definitely earned it tonight," said Jones, who got a small cut on his lower lip as a souvenir of his battles with the man who outweighs him by 100 pounds. "It's definitely a learning experience. You can't get frustrated."

    Miami opened the game with a 15-4 run, capped by O'Neal's three-point play. Atlanta chipped away and had a chance to take the lead on what could've been the final possession of the half, but Posey stole Anthony Johnson's pass with 3.9 seconds left and got fouled.

    Posey made both free throws, then stole Marvin Williams' inbounds pass, got fouled and again hit a pair from the line to send Miami into the break with a 57-52 lead. Posey then hit a 3-pointer to open the third quarter, and the Heat steadily pulled away for just their second win in their last five games.

    Miami opens a three-game road swing in Toronto on Wednesday.

    "We needed this one to get our feet back under us a little bit," Posey said. "It's a boost, because we're about to go on the road and need to take it to another level."

    O'Neal got position behind Batista midway through the fourth quarter, took a lob from Antoine Walker and threw down a dunk for a 97-77 lead, and the Heat bench was emptied not long afterward.

    "We stayed exactly with the game plan," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "We kept pounding the ball into the post until something different was coming. We had whatever matchup we wanted in there."

    Game notes

    Posey's season-high in scoring is 26 points, at New Jersey in December. ... Hawks C Zaza Pachulia, who at 280 pounds probably had the best chance of being able to endure banging with O'Neal, did not play because of illness. ... Walker played 11 first-half minutes without picking up a single stat, other than two fouls. ... NBA finals MVP Dwyane Wade now has a new injury to deal with, albeit a minor one -- and one that won't impact his rehab from a dislocated left shoulder, either. He had a bandage on his face because of a mild skin irritation.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 89 106
    FGM-FGA 36-73 (.493) 34-69 (.493)
    3PM-3PA 6-12 (.500) 6-13 (.462)
    FTM-FTA 11-14 (.786) 32-45 (.711)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 8-34 14-40
    Assists 19 20
    Turnovers 16 13
    Steals 6 9
    Blocks 7 4
    Fast Break Points 8 14
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 32 (1/0) 14 (2/0)
    Largest Lead 2 21

    Top Performers

    Josh Smith Smith
    Points: 20
    Reb: 6
    Ast: 4
    Stl: 1
    Blk: 3
    Shaquille O'Neal O'Neal
    Points: 22
    Reb: 11
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 1