O’Neal Dominates as Heat Sweep Wizards
Miami 99, Washington 86
WASHINGTON, April 8 (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal made sure that the Miami Heat bounced back quickly from a tough loss.
O'Neal scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Heat completed a season sweep of the Washington Wizards with a 99-86 victory.
After the loss to the Pistons, the Heat fell to 2-12 against division leaders.
"Sometimes we play the caliber of a good team and sometimes we don't know what we're doing out there so we have to develop some type of playoff mentality," O'Neal said. "The playoffs will be here soon and New Jersey is on our tail so we just want to try to maintain our lead and maintain the spot.
"We have a sense of urgency to win the whole thing. Getting to the finals does nothing for me."
O'Neal shot 13-of-16 from the field and Derek Anderson scored 20 points and hit five 3-pointers off the bench for the Heat, who shot 46 percent (38-of-82).
"When you get those open looks running with Shaq and Dwyane (Wade), you've got to make those shots," Anderson said. "That's what I'm here to do."
"Anderson ended up beating us," Washington guard Gilbert Arenas said. "He found his rhythm tonight."
Udonis Haslem added 13 points and 14 rebounds to forge Miami's 46-33 advantage on the boards.
Gary Payton scored 13 points and handed out eight assists as Miami finished with five players in double figures in points.
"Contrary to public opinion, I think we've got a lot of (depth)," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "There are some people who say that we don't have any. I do think we do have an abundance of it that is capable of doing what they're doing. A lot of times things are predicated on what Dwyane and Shaquille are doing, but I think we won our 50th game and our depth today stepped up."
Wade, who was battling the flu, played with a 101-degree temperature and got in early foul trouble. He finished with 11 points and eight assists in 21 minutes.
Despite trailing by as many as 12 points in the first quarter, the Heat went on a 12-1 run midway through the second to pull ahead 43-36 on a hook shot by O'Neal with 5:27 remaining.
"Every time we see this team, and we'll see it again this week, the zone, while it doesn't bother us, it gets us out of sync," Riley said about the slow start. "We did not play with much energy in the first four of five minutes of the game and then once we started to play with energy and got down the floor quicker things began to open up for us."
Behind nine straight points by Arenas, the Wizards closed within 51-47 with 2:33 remaining before halftime.
Miami managed to pull away in the third as Washington managed just 12 points.
Despite playing with a lower back sprain, Arenas scored 30 points and Antonio Daniels added 25 for the Wizards, who committed 19 turnovers.
"We are not playing tomorrow so I'll have a chance to rest it and hopefully I can get back to about 80 percent before we play Philadelphia," Arenas said. "Until we seal up that five spot (in the Eastern Conference), there will be no rest. I just have to keep going full-throttle until we get that five seed. We're getting banged up at the worst time and it's going to be a battle the rest of the way, but we have enough talent on this team to keep winning."
While Caron Butler missed his second straight game with a sprained right thumb, Antawn Jamison struggled through a dismal shooting effort for Washington, scoring just eight points on 4-of-18 from the floor.