O’Neal, Heat Start Fast, Rout Bucks
Miami 115, Milwaukee 89
MIAMI, April 4 (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat wasted little time sending the Milwaukee Bucks packing.
O'Neal had 24 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks and Udonis Haslem added 17 points as the Heat breezed to a 115-89 victory over the Bucks.
"It's all in our hands," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "I'm not looking at numbers. I'm not looking at who they (Nets) are playing."
"Coach jumped on me the other day," said O'Neal, who shot 9-of-13 overall. "He told me I was settling and they have done a great job making sure we stay in shape. This is the lightest I've been in about 10 years. Hopefully, the guys will get it to me so I can run for them. If you feed a big dog then he's active like that."
The Heat jumped out early by scoring the first 13 points of the contest and never trailed.
"That's one of the better, more complete games that we've played in a long time," Riley said. "It's the first time that Shaq, in a couple of weeks, has been running to the rim and we got him early in transition and that's what it was. We have to get back to that game."
Holding a 55-43 halftime lead, the Heat broke open the game with a 12-5 surge to start the third quarter. Gary Payton, who scored five of his 13 points in the burst, capped it with a three-point play at the 9:04 mark
Antoine Walker, Dwyane Wade and Derek Anderson scored 14 points each for Miami, which shot 61 percent (45-of-73) from the field and had six players reach double figures.
"They (Miami) have their eyes on a championship," Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "They set the tone early and went to Shaquille often and played off of him and didn't have to rely on Wade having to score a lot. It looks like they made a concerted effort to get more people involved and they certainly went to Shaq as often as they could."
Charlie Bell scored a career-high 29 points and Michael Redd 16 for Milwaukee (37-37), which fell 1 1/2 games behind fifth-place Washington in the East.
"They were concentrating on Michael, and they were leaving me open so I got a chance to knock down some threes and I did," said Bell, who made 6-of-9 3-pointers. "They came out playing aggressive and going inside, attacking the basket and we didn't have an answer for it tonight."
The Bucks, who shot 42 percent (30-of-71) overall, set an NBA record for fewest turnovers with two in their last game, but had 14 that led to 23 Miami points on Tuesday.
"It was an eye-opener for us," Bell added. "This is how it's going to be in the playoffs."