Riley Wins First Game Back as Heat Coach
Miami 100, Chicago 97
CHICAGO, Dec. 13 (Ticker) -- Interim Miami Heat coach Pat Riley made sure the offense went through Shaquille O'Nealearly and often.
O'Neal collected a season-high 30 points and seven rebounds in his second game back from an ankle injury as the Heat posted a narrow, 100-97 victory over the Chicago Bulls.
"Two years go by very fast," Riley said. "I had to get right into the competition of this game. A lot of things have gone under the bridge during that time. It was just exciting to be out there and see these two teams play hard."
After Miami forced a turnover, Dwyane Wade found O'Neal in the lane on a fast break for thunderous, one-handed dunk with 1:54 remaining in the fourth quarter that opened a 92-87 lead. O'Neal scored 17 points in the second half.
"Pat told me that I should be ready, they would be coming to me," said O'Neal, who made 12-of-21 shots. "If they are going to come to me 69 percent of the time, the field-goal percentage I shoot, I will be ready."
The score was 94-89 before Chicago's Kirk Hinrich drilled a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key. On the ensuing play, Wade nailed a jumper as the shot clock was expiring with 48 seconds left to give Miami a 96-92 lead.
"We had some good looks at the basket," said Hinrich, who made 4-of-9 from long range. "We just weren't able to capitalize on the opportunities."
After Hinrich split a pair of free throws to get Chicago within 99-97 with 7.8 seconds left, the Bulls immediately fouled Wade, who failed to put the game out of reach after sinking just 1-of-2 from the line.
Chicago guard Luol Deng had a chance to send the contest to overtime but missed a 3-pointer as time expired.
"Luol went up and had a good look at the basket," Chicago coach Scott Skiles said. "Our problem was a couple of possessions before that when we were not able to get a stop."
Antoine Walker and Wade scored 14 points apiece and Payton added 10 for Miami, which held a dominating 42-16 advantage in points in the paint. Alonzo Mourning collected 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in 20 minutes.
"That's why he's here and we are going to make him earn his money," Riley said about his plan to pound it inside to O'Neal. "He still is a ways away from being in sharp condition. He did miss 17 games (with an ankle injury) so the quicker we can get him back, 26 or 27 minutes a night. He was real good tonight."
Hinrich scored 26 points and Darius Songaila added 19 off the bench for the Bulls, who have lost eight of the last nine meetings against Miami. Chicago was 1-of-11 from the arc at halftime before making 6-of-11 in the second half.
"We are third in the league in 3-point shooting," Skiles said. "It has been the reason for our wins, we were so literally wide open you have to take them. We just have to make them."