PORTLAND, Ore., Jan. 7 (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal
got the Miami
Heat off to a great start on a number of fronts.
O'Neal scored 28 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and keyed a pivotal
early run as Miami kicked off a five-game road trip with a
103-92 triumph over the Portland Trail Blazers.
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Winning for the 16th time in 17 games, Miami (27-8) ran its
record away from home to 13-4 and has matched its road win total
from last season. The start is the best in franchise history
and the best by a team in the Eastern Conference since the
1996-97 Chicago Bulls began the campaign with a 31-4 mark.
"We needed to start off our five-game road trip with a win,"
O'Neal said. "I told the guys to give me the ball and it was
our intention to just play good team ball. It was a good win in
a tough building."
added 23 points and tied a career-high with 12
assists, but it was O'Neal early that set the tone. The
superstar center had eight points in a game-opening 18-4 burst
and Miami never was headed.
"They just put up too many points in that first quarter,"
Portland center Theo Ratliff
said. "It's hard to battle uphill,
and that's what we've been doing for a while here."
"I thought we started the game with great energy," Miami coach
Stan Van Gundy
said. "Playing in front and back with Shaq, that
scheme, if we execute correctly, he can handle that. There's
just a lot of open shots that come from that."
O'Neal was 11-of-15 from the field and 6-of-8 from the
free-throw line. Wade made 8-of-15 shots as the Heat, who have
won eight straight road games, shot 51 percent (39-of-76) from
"Dwyane Wade is a heck of a player and we all know what Shaq is
all about," Portland's Ruben Patterson
said. "Those guys are a
good combination together. They're like Batman and Robin."
"(O'Neal and Wade) both played very well, but we got huge
contributions from (Udonis) Haslem
and Eddie Jones
," Van Gundy
said. "Damon (Jones
) had eight assists and double-digit points. I
think all five starters played the game pretty well."
Wade had 21 of his points in the second half and has scored at
least 20 in 12 straight games, tying the Heat record set by
in the 1999-2000 season.
"I'm just trying to do what my team needs me to do," Wade said.
"Earlier, they needed me to get guys involved. I felt later,
they needed me to be more of a scorer, and that's all I am trying
Patterson led the Trail Blazers with 27 points and Zach Randolph
chipped in 25. Portland (14-17), which beat Miami on Nov.
23, has lost three straight overall.
Portland was just 1-of-5 from 3-point range and was