Shaq Takes Over in OT; Heat Win Ninth Straight
Miami 106, Charlotte 105 (OT)
CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 6 (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal personally made sure he celebrated his 34th birthday with a win.
O'Neal scored all eight of his team's points in overtime and finished with a season-high 35 as the Miami Heat once again rallied to beat an inferior foe with a 106-105 triumph over the Charlotte Bobcats, their ninth straight win.
"We were just messing around the whole game, so I just told the guys to keep coming to me and they did," said O'Neal, who scored 22 points in the fourth quarter and overtime.
"I was struggling in the first half behind the (arc)," said Williams, who had 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter. "I've just got to keep shooting when I'm open. Once we started making them, that was the difference."
O'Neal and Williams had just 24 points combined at the end of three periods.
"We're very fortunate to get the win," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "But we also had the guts to stay in it. We're finding a way to win. Obviously, it's a little different without Dwyane."
"We came in a little too lackadaisical today," O'Neal said. "This is the type of team that plays with a lot of effort and a lot of energy, especially in this building, and we just didn't match their energy the whole game and we had to fight back in the fourth quarter."
After Williams sank his third 3-pointer of the fourth quarter to tie the score at 98-98 with 45 seconds remaining, the Bobcats grabbed the early edge in the extra session on a follow shot by Primoz Brezec.
O'Neal, who made 16-of-23 shots and had 12 rebounds, answered with a baseline jumper. The 13-time All-Star added a pair of dunks to make it 104-104 with 1:20 to play.
Charlotte's Brevin Knight missed a layup, and after a near turnover by Antoine Walker, Gary Payton drove the left baseline and found O'Neal for a two-handed dunk with 42 seconds left.
"I told them, especially in overtime, to just keep bringing me the ball and let me go to work because at that time they weren't really double-teaming me." O'Neal said.
Bobcats rookie Raymond Felton split two free throws with 34 ticks remaining and Udonis Haslem sealed the win for the Heat by pulling down a crucial offensive rebound over Gerald Wallace after a missed jumper by Payton, allowing Miami to kill the clock.
"I had the ball coming down on the last possession and Udonis Haslem slapped the ball back up in the air," Wallace said. "It was a tip-fest, and the difficult thing was that we ended up just tapping the ball. We needed that one key possession to determine a game."
Charlotte had the chance to win the game in regulation, but Brezec was unable to get off a shot before the horn sounded. Picking up the 7-footer off a pick-and-roll, Payton bodied up Brezec to prevent an attempt.
"Brevin was trying to go in the lane and I was open," Brezec said. "I just couldn't get a shot off, unfortunately. No. 7 (Brezec's number) lost that game tonight, and I take the blame for that."
Haslem had 16 points and 13 boards and Walker netted 16 for Miami, which improved to 28-10 under Riley.
Wallace had 26 points, 15 rebounds and six steals and Knight added 24 and 11 assists for Charlotte, which has lost four straight home games.
"This was a game from the opening tip that we felt like we could have won," Wallace said. "We dominated the whole game where we did what we wanted to do on offense, and took them out of what they wanted to do on their offense. They made some key plays down the stretch and we didn't."