MIAMI, Dec. 17 (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade
and Shaquille O'Neal
the Miami Heat's hold on the Eastern Conference.
Wade scored 25 points and O'Neal added 20 and a season-high
seven assists as the Heat began a three-game homestand with
their seventh straight win, a 107-100 victory over the Denver
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The Heat (18-7) moved three games ahead of Cleveland for the
best record in the East and have home games vs. Orlando and
Boston before heading out west to face Sacramento and the Los
It was a reversal of the first meeting between the clubs on
December 4, a 104-95 home victory by Denver in which it held a
54-34 advantage in points in the paint. O'Neal dominated inside
with 9-of-14 shooting and passed out of double-teams to set up
easy shots for his teammates.
O'Neal added 11 rebounds and three blocks as Miami outscored
Denver, 58-40, in the paint.
Coming off Wednesday's win against Washington in which he had 29
points and nine assists, Wade made 9-of-17 shots. His pull-up
jumper from the left corner with 43 seconds left stopped a 12-1
run by the Nuggets and gave the Heat a 105-97 lead.
Denver lost more than a game as star forward Carmelo Anthony
to be helped from the court after spraining his left ankle on a
drive with just over four minutes left in the third period.
X-rays were negative, but Anthony - who scored 14 points to end
his run of 20-point games at seven - is questionable for
Saturday's game at Orlando.
had 24 points, seven assists and six steals and
added 21 and 10 rebounds for the Nuggets, who fell
to 3-3 on their seven-game road trip.
After Byron Russell
hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 90-80,
sank two free throws and Wade and Laettner
each hit jumpers to push the lead to 96-80 with just over six
minutes left. The Nuggets used a 12-1 run capped by Miller's
three-point play to close to 103-97 with 63 seconds remaining
before Wade hit his tough jumper.
Miami shot 57 percent in the first half and got 12 of its 32
points in the paint from O'Neal to open a 57-46 lead. Wade
scored eight points and O'Neal added seven in the third period,
stretching the advantage to 86-72.