EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., March 3 (Ticker) --
Miami Heat in Shaquille O'Neal's
absence. He did the same with
the big man back in the lineup.
Wade scored 27 points and dished out eight assists and O'Neal
collected 20 points and 13 rebounds in his return as the Heat
rallied for a 106-90 victory over the New Jersey Nets.
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O'Neal missed Miami's previous three games after straining his
left knee two minutes into a loss to Chicago on February 22.
While he was out, Wade averaged 30.3 points and 7.7 assists.
After a slow start, Miami recovered from a 14-point deficit and
dominated the final 30 minutes behind another stellar
performance from Wade, who had missed five of his first six
shots. The Heat climbed within 48-44 at halftime and rode their
young superstar in a lopsided third quarter.
"The bad thing with Dwyane is that you start to take all those
types of games for granted," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said.
"He had the ball and was making all the plays."
Miami made 11-of-17 shots in the quarter and Wade was involved
in all but one basket, making four and assisting on six. He
scored six points during an 8-0 run to close the period as the
Heat built a 76-65 lead heading into the fourth.
"We got it going in the last six minutes of the second quarter,
and it just carried over to the second half," Wade said.
"We just had to wake up," O'Neal said. "They came out pretty
fast. Most teams, when they play us, play way above their
heads. They want to shoot the ball too fast. In order to beat
us, you're going to have to play like that for 48 minutes."
New Jersey made only 5-of-21 shots in the third period and never
got closer than seven in the fourth, when Miami led by as many
O'Neal played 33 minutes in his first game in more than a week,
but Wade still was the focal point of the offense.
"I felt pretty good being out there with the guys," O'Neal said.
"My knee felt pretty good."
The Nets tried fouling O'Neal on consecutive possessions for
Miami in the final four minutes, but the All-Star center
thwarted the popular strategy by making all four of his free
"Most of the time, I make those shots," said O'Neal, who
finished 8-of-11 from the line. "I don't know why people think
"You're looking to try to change momentum and, somehow, we
couldn't get it," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "We tried it
and it didn't work."
With a layup at the 4:01 mark of the second quarter, O'Neal
moved past Hall of Famer Elgin Baylor and into 18th place on the
NBA's all-time scoring list. O'Neal finished the game with
23,159 career points, 18 behind Adrian Dantley.
scored 27 points but made only 7-of-21 shots. He
went 2-of-15 after the first quarter as Miami tightened its
"We didn't win, plain and simple," Carter said. "They stepped
their defense up. They stepped their intensity up and we didn't
answer. If you don't answer and let the other team get going,
especially another team like that, (bad) things happen."
added 11 points and Jason Kidd
collected 10, six
rebounds and five assists as the Nets had a three-game winning
The game marked the beginning of the second stint with the Heat
for Alonzo Mourning
, who signed with the club Tuesday.
Mourning, who starred for the Heat for seven seasons before
health issues forced him to miss the 2002-03 campaign, played 12
games with New Jersey last season and 18 this campaign before
being shipped to Toronto - where he refused to report - in a
deal that involved Carter.
The Raptors eventually bought out Mourning's contract, opening
the door for a return to Miami. Mourning had two rebounds and
an assist in two minutes in his first appearance since December
"It felt good (to play). It felt better just putting on that
jersey and at the end of all of this just coming out with a
win," he said. "That's what I came here for, to contribute to
this team winning by any means necessary."
The Nets had a 39-25 lead midway through the second quarter
after making 16 of their first 28 shots. But they shot just 32
percent (30-of-80) thereafter and were outscored, 79-50.
After missing 19 of their first 28 shots, Miami recovered to
shoot better than 62 percent (28-of-45) the rest of the way.