Shaq Returns, Wade Stars in Miamiís OT Win
Miami 104, Washington 101 (OT)
MIAMI, Dec. 11 (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade was happy to have his partner inside back and it showed.
Wade scored six of his season-high 41 points in overtime and Shaquille O'Neal contributed 10 points and 11 rebounds in his return from injury as the Miami Heat snapped a four-game losing streak with a 104-101 overtime victory over the Washington Wizards.
"Zo's (Alonzo Mourning) been playing good and, until I can get my wind back and go 40 minutes, I think he should be in there giving us 100 percent," said O'Neal, who played just over 23 minutes. "There's still a lot of room for improvement."
With O'Neal on the sideline, Wade continued one of the best stretches of his career, shooting 15-of-27 from the field to tie a career high with his third straight game of more than 30 points. He posted his first 40-point performance since scoring 48 against Philadelphia on April 14.
"I thought that was an absolutely phenomenal performance," Miami coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He just took over the game when we needed it most."
Wade, who finished 11-of-13 from the line, grabbed 10 rebounds and handed out eight assists.
"I don't try to take over a game," Wade said. "I just try to make the plays when the opportunities come. I just went out there and tried to be aggressive."
After rookie Gerald Fitch gave the Heat a 77-70 lead with a midcourt shot right before the end of the third quarter, Wade extended the lead to eight points with a reverse layup with 8:01 remaining.
"Tonight we came out flat, but as the game went on we looked inside ourselves to see how we could turn it around and get the W," Wade said.
Van Gundy stated it was the type of win that could be a turning point in what so far has been a mediocre season, after going just 9-9 in the absence of O'Neal.
"We need to put a couple of wins together now to get some confidence," Van Gundy said. "Once we get a little momentum going, we can start to make a run."
Caron Butler, who finished with a season-high 28 points against his former team, scored four points during a 9-0 run that put the Wizards ahead, 89-88, with 5:03 left.
"You just go out there and do your best to win the game," Butler said. "Whether it's Miami or anyone else, in a game like that you want to make a difference."
Both teams went back and forth until Butler hit a 12-footer and Gilbert Arenas made two free throws to make it 94-91 with 56 seconds left.
Miami answered back with a 3-pointer from the right corner by Gary Payton with 39 seconds to play to cut it to 95-94, and O'Neal was fouled inside with a second left. Shooting 6-of-16 from the stripe, O'Neal had the first bounce in and out but made the second to force overtime.
"I really wanted to hit that first one, but the second one felt good leaving my hand," O'Neal said.
In the extra session, O'Neal made 1-of-2 free throws and then rebounded a miss by Wade and threw down a thunderous dunk for a 98-95 edge with 4:01 to play. After Chucky Atkins tied the score with one of his six 3-pointers, Wade followed a missed jump hook by O'Neal and added a layup after Antawn Jamison mistakenly saved a loose ball under his own basket to make it 102-98 with 51 seconds to go.
Atkins added another 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds left, but Wade sank two free throws to seal it.
Payton scored a season-high 21 points and Udonis Haslem added 11 and eight rebounds for Miami, which has now won the last nine regular-season encounters with Washington.
Miami got the win despite playing without starting point guard Jason Williams due to tendinitis in his right knee.
"I'm starting to get my legs and am focusing more," Payton said. "With Jason (Williams) out, I'm the guy so I need to get in the flow more and be less of a spot-up player."
Arenas, who missed 13 straight shots at one point, finished 5-of-24 from the field with 24 points and Atkins added 26 for the Wizards.
"We fought hard," Arenas said. "It came down to another night with a call at the end of the game that broke our back."