MIAMI, April 19 (Ticker) --
With Shaquille O'Neal
resting up for the
postseason, Rasual Butler
and Dwyane Wade
helped the Miami Heat
get ready for the playoffs.
Butler scored 12 of his career-high 25 points in the fourth
quarter and Wade added 14 points in only 23 minutes as Miami
cruised to a 99-80 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats.
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A third-year forward, Butler made 11-of-14 shots in topping his
previous career high of 22 points set against Denver on March 8,
2003. The 6-7 Butler also grabbed six rebounds and contributed
to a key Miami run that put away the game
"Rasual was on fire. He shot all good shots," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy
said. "I have liked the way he has played, but tonight
was by far the best."
"I have been waiting for my opportunity, and when I got it, I
wanted to seize the moment," Butler said. "I just wanted to
concentrate on my role and try to stay focused."
After the expansion Bobcats (17-64) cut the deficit to 81-73 on
a basket by Melvin Ely
with 9:26 remaining, the Heat (58-23)
responded with a decisive 16-2 run to put away the game. Butler
scored 10 points in the burst.
"To have another lethal shooter come off the bench and do what
he did tonight was very important," Wade said. "We need more
than five guys to come through, and we proved we have the depth
to get it done."
Wade added four rebounds, three assists and two steals in
limited action. The Heat rested many of their key players,
already locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference
"It was good to get everyone in the game. I thought that was a
real positive," Van Gundy said. "The more positive thing,
however, was to play the game well and sharply."
Van Gundy felt the team's offensive execution was especially
important considering the Heat's possible opponents in the first
round of the playoffs.
"New Jersey, Cleveland and Philadelphia all play some zone, so
to attack the zone as well as we did tonight was key," Van Gundy
O'Neal, one of the leading contenders for MVP, was placed on the
injured list before the game with a right quad contusion. He
will be back for the first round of the playoffs, which begins
"I've been getting double and triple treatments, and have been
keeping myself mentally ready to go," O'Neal said. "It's been a
strange two to three weeks for me, but I'm the type of person
who can turn a negative into a positive and I'm keeping a good
attitude about this."
and Eddie Jones
added 10 points apiece, giving Van
Gundy his 100th career win.
"He's a great coach and a perfectionist who works really hard
and this is a great achievement for him," Butler said.
, Keith Bogans
and Ely scored 14 points apiece for
the Bobcats, who lost for the 11th time in 13 outings.
"I guess they're getting ready for that playoff run," Charlotte
rookie Emeka Okafor
said. "They're tightening all their nuts and
bolts. They were really on target tonight."