Heat Cruise Past Celtics
Miami 114, Boston 98
MIAMI, Feb. 6 (Ticker) -- Dwyane Wade put away the Boston Celtics in a "flash."
Wade collected 34 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Miami Heat pulled away for their seventh win in nine games, a 114-98 victory over the Celtics, whose season-high losing streak reached six games.
"I thought Dwyane was very conscious of driving and kicking the ball in the first half," Heat coach Pat Riley said.
The Celtics fought back in the third quarter, drawing within 77-74 with 1:45 remaining on a pair of free throws by Paul Pierce. Wade answered by closing the period with a personal 6-0 run, hitting all six of his free throws in the final 1:13 to restore order.
"He's Dwyane Wade. He's a good player," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "He's athletic. He attacks. It's who he is. I thought we did a pretty good job on him up until the end. I thought we were forcing him to take shots from the outside. (The Heat) see the young players on the floor guarding him and they attack them. That is exactly what Wade did and that is what he should do."
Wade, who is nicknamed "Flash" and will be making his first All-Star start later this month, opened the fourth quarter with a driving dunk - one of several slams for the Heat in the period. Former Celtic Antoine Walker added a layup shortly thereafter to cap a 10-0 run that extended the lead to 87-74.
"I took it upon myself to be more aggressive," Wade said. "I wanted the ball. Coach gave me the ball and I just tried to attack (and) make plays, just take it to the rim and see what happens."
Miami's lead morphed into a 102-82 bulge over the next six-plus minutes. Alonzo Mourning and Shaquille O'Neal each had three-point plays during the outburst, which Wade capped with a thunderous one-handed breakaway dunk with five minutes left.
"(Wade's) a natural scorer," Pierce said. "It's tough to stop a natural scorer. Our job is just trying to control the other guys. He's going to get it going."
Wade shot 10-of-17 from the field and 13-of-15 from the foul line en route to his 21st 30-point effort of the season.
"We kept trying to call his number," Riley said. "We had him handle the ball a lot and he was either getting to the line or getting some hoops."
"He's a great young player," said O'Neal, who added 21 points. "You just have to let a guy like that do his thing."
Udonis Haslem chipped in 17 points and Walker added all 12 of his in the fourth quarter for the Heat, who improved to 17-6 at home and have won five of the last six meetings with the Celtics.
"It's a regular game, but you always want to come out on top," said Walker, who played for Boston from 1996-2003 and for 24 games last season. "I got to know some of the young guys (on the Celtics) last year. Obviously, Paul is a good friend of mine, so it's always good to beat your old team."
Pierce scored 31 points but shot just 8-of-21 from the floor. Raef LaFrentz contributed 18 points and newcomer Wally Szczerbiak 16 for Boston, which shot only 41 percent (30-of-73) and was outrebounded, 44-36.
"Right now, I don't think we have anything to hang our hat on," LaFrentz said. "We can't really get stops, the board work comes and goes and offensively, we're not really fluent. We've got a lot of things to improve upon. We hit a lull tonight ... we have lulls every night."
Meanwhile, Pierce is taking the high road.
"We've got to keep our heads up," Pierce added. "We're going to turn this around sooner or later."