MIAMI, April 24 (Ticker) -- The New Jersey Nets have much more to worry about than just Shaquille O'Neal.

With O'Neal opening things up on the perimeter, Dwyane Wade and Damon Jones combined to make 22-of-30 shots as the Miami Heat rolled to a 116-98 victory over the Nets in the opener of their Eastern Conference first-round series.

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In a star-studded series that features O'Neal, Jason Kidd and Vince Carter, Wade and Jones stole the show.

Wade, an All-Star in just his second season, made 12-of-18 shots and scored a playoff career-high 32 points, doing a majority of his damage against Kidd. He also handed out eight assists.

"The playoffs are a time for players to step up," said Wade, whose previous playoff high was 27 points. "If you consider yourself a leader and a player, it's time to step up. That's what I tried to do."

"What makes him (Wade) a great player is the fact there is no fear," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He made some adjustments from the way that they had played him during the regular season. He made himself very difficult to guard. Hopefully, that will continue."

A journeyman shooting guard, Jones benefited from the double-teams the 7-1, 325-pound O'Neal was receiving. He scored a playoff career-high 30 points, making seven 3-pointers and going 10-of-12 from the floor.

"I knew they were going to double down on Shaq and try to take away Dwyane's penetration," said Jones, whose previous playoff high was 17 points. "I didn't know if they were going to close out or just let me shoot, but it was really good to get those open looks and for the ball to fall in for me tonight. It gave me a lot of confidence. The basket felt very, very big - like South Beach."

"He got a lot of open shots and he is a great shooter," Van Gundy said. "He knocked them down and he was phenomenal."

Wade scored 15 points and Jones 13 in the first half, helping the top-seeded Heat open a 54-42 lead. They never let the lead dip below double digits in the second half and led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter.

"Wade and Damon Jones were really, really special," Nets coach Lawrence Frank said. "And because of the attention Shaq demands, we've got to go back to the drawing board."

A three-time NBA Finals MVP, O'Neal was a game-time decision after missing five of the last eight regular-season games with a stomach ailment and bruised thigh. He had consecutive dunks to start the contest and collected 17 points and 11 rebounds in 32 minutes.

"I knew I wasn't going to be the regular playoff diesel that America is used to," said O'Neal, who averaged 36.3 points when he helped the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Nets in the 2002 Finals.

"I didn't have that explosiveness, that firecracker explosiveness. If the team plays like this with a 40 percent Shaq, imagine what we'll do as I improve. I told the guys they're good enough to get it done without me or in a limited role."

Miami, which has beaten New Jersey by at least 16 points in all four meetings this season, hosts Game 2 on Tuesday.

Carter scored 27 points and Kidd 18 for the eighth-seeded Nets, who played their way into the postseason by winning 15 of their last 19 games.

The Nets' star tandem was brutal early as they combined to miss 14 of their first 17 shots, allowing the Heat to race to a 38-24 lead with 6:22 left in the first half.

With O'Neal on the bench early in the second quarter, the Heat received a boost from Alonzo Mourning, who started the season with the Nets, was traded to Toronto in the Carter deal in December and signed with the Heat.

Mourning had a follow dunk and layup to trigger a 16-5 burst to open the second quarter that gave the Heat control. He had six points and three rebounds in 14 effective minutes off the bench.

Jones drilled three 3-pointers in the second quarter, the final one at the 1:59 mark gave the Heat their biggest lead of the first half at 51-35. After Wade scored 10 points in the first quarter, Jones had eight in the second. The duo helped the Heat shoot 53 percent (20-of-38) in the first half.

With Carter and Kidd misfiring early, the Nets missed 16 of 17 shots in an 11 1/2-minute stretch of the half in which they shot just 36 percent (14-of-39).

Kidd, who missed all eight of his shots and went scoreless in last season's Game Seven loss at Detroit in the conference semifinals, went just 2-of-10 in the first half. He finished 7-of-17.

Carter's follow shot with 7:01 left in the third quarter pulled the Nets within 66-56. But Udonis Haslem, who had 11 points and 11 rebounds, scored five points in a 9-2 surge to give the Heat control again.

Wade also helped the Heat gradually pull away. He made 5-of-6 shots and scored 12 points in the third quarter that ended with the Heat holding an 87-73 lead.

Jones made all five of his shots and scored 14 points in the fourth quarter.

"They were knocking down shots from the perimeter," Nets center Jason Collins said. "Basically, it was catch and shoot. We were paying a lot of attention to Shaq. There was some miscommunication out there. Things that we should know better. We made a lot of mistakes defensively, and they converted on those opportunities."

Eddie Jones added 10 points for the Heat, who shot 59 percent (42-of-71), including 9-of-15 from the arc.

"We knew they could score a lot of points if we didn't defend the three," Carter said. "Anytime you play a Shaq team you have to address that (perimeter defense), but you can't forget about the other guys," Kidd said.

Nets All-Star forward Richard Jefferson, who missed the final 49 regular-season games after undergoing surgery for a ruptured ligament in his left wrist, returned to the lineup and scored nine points in 23 minutes.