OíNealís Triple-Double Lifts Heat Over Raptors
Miami 106, Toronto 97
MIAMI, April 11 (Ticker) -- With Dwyane Wade sidelined, the Miami Heat did not have their leading scorer and distributor. Shaquille O'Neal and Antoine Walker picked up the slack in both departments.
O'Neal collected 15 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists and Walker scored a season-best 32 points as the Heat cruised to a 106-97 victory over the Toronto Raptors, who have lost nine straight.
O'Neal does not remember his first triple-double as he claims not to be a "stats-type person."
"I just always try to have a positive impact on the game and win as many games as possible," O'Neal said.
The 7-1 All-star recognized the Raptors' soft double-team on virtually every occasion and found open shooters. O'Neal recorded his 10th assist with 7:07 left when he found Shandon Anderson on the opposite block for a layup.
"I knew they (Raptors) were going to double me so I just wanted to keep my guys involved," said O'Neal. "They kept doubling and I just kept making the good pass, and my teammates were making me look good."
"I don't think there's any doubt what kind of skill level he has," Heat coach Pat Riley said.
Walker made 13-of-26 shots and had eight rebounds and five assists. Derek Anderson added 17 points and Gary Payton and Udonis Haslem both tallied 15 for Miami (51-27), which moved 3 1/2 games ahead of New Jersey - which lost to Chicago later Tuesday - for the second seed in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.
"With Dwyane out we are missing 27, 28 points, a lot of assists, and a lot of rebounds so I wanted to come out, be a lot more aggressive and attack the basket," Walker said.
"If we can get Antoine to play like that the rest of the season and in the playoffs, then we should win it (NBA title)," O'Neal said. "He is the missing link."
When Wade returns to the court it is unlikely Walker will have another 26-shot outing, but he knows he still can be productive for the Heat.
"The biggest thing is when you get touches, to make them quality touches," said Walker, who made his 15th start of the season.
The Heat held an 82-77 advantage after three quarters and started the final period with a 10-3 burst for a 92-80 lead with 8:48 to go. A jumper by Haslem capped the spurt.
After Toronto shaved the deficit to 92-85 on a 3-pointer by Mike James a minute later, Miami seized control with a 9-1 run capped on a shot from the arc by Walker for a 101-86 edge with 5:16 remaining.
"Obviously I'm very happy with the win and the fact that we had 26 assists and a lot of guys involved," Riley said. "Tonight we did a lot better at cutting and spotting quickly. We just made a lot better decisions."
James scored 32 points to become the first Raptor to have four straight games with 30 or more. Morris Peterson added 23 for Toronto, which shot 13-of-26 from long distance.