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Posted Feb 4 2007 8:20PM
The Miami Heat are hoping to build momentum. More performances from Shaquille O'Neal similar to the one he had the last time out would go a long way toward that goal.
O'Neal and the Heat look to match a season high with their fourth straight victory Monday night when they host the Charlotte Bobcats.
Injuries to several key players have contributed to the Heat's disappointing season, but none have been bigger than the knee injury that caused O'Neal to miss 39 of his team's 47 games.
Although overshadowed by Dwyane Wade's 32 points and 11 assists, O'Neal had his best game since his Nov. 19 knee surgery Saturday in Miami's 117-98 victory at Milwaukee.
The big center had 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting with four rebounds and three assists in 20 minutes.
''We've been off track for way too long and we need to get back on track,'' O'Neal said. "Once we do that, we'll start talking about other things like playoffs. We just need to keep winning to get back even first.''
Jason Kapono scored a career-high 28 points with six 3-pointers as the Heat (22-25) snapped a five-game road losing streak.
Despite outstanding games from O'Neal and Kapono, Saturday belonged to Wade, who shot 11-of-17 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds. Wade had his collegiate jersey retired Saturday in a ceremony during the Providence-Marquette game.
The Heat All-Star extended his franchise-best streak of consecutive games with at least 20 points to 14. Wade has scored 30 or more 10 times during that stretch.
"He's the greatest guard I've ever played with, and I've played with some great ones," O'Neal said.
Saturday marked Eddie Jones' first game with the Heat since the 2004-05 season. The veteran guard, waived Tuesday by Memphis, scored two points in six minutes.
Miami has won three straight and eight of its last 11 at home.
The Heat have dominated the Bobcats, winning six straight and eight of nine all-time meetings. Miami is 4-0 at home in the series, winning by an average of 18 points.
Charlotte (18-29), however, has been an improved team of late, winning three of four and nine of its last 15 games.
One week after getting blown out by Golden State, the Bobcats avenged that loss Saturday with a 98-90 victory over the Warriors.
Raymond Felton scored 12 of his 22 points after taking an elbow to the head from Golden State's Al Harrington early in the second half.
Felton was down for several minutes before going to the locker room after taking the elbow. Five minutes later, after it was determined he didn't suffer a concussion, he checked back in.
Gerald Wallace added 21 points, a career high-tying 16 rebounds and six assists, three days after he scored a career-best 42 points in a victory over New York.
"It's great that my production is helping us win," Wallace said. "Our main thing now is mentally we're feeding into the aspect of us potentially as a playoff team."
Bobcats center Emeka Okafor could be in for a long night Monday if recent history is any indication. He is averaging 7.6 points on 6-of-24 shooting in his last three games against Miami.
Wade had 35 points and 12 assists in Miami's 102-93 victory at Charlotte on Nov. 24.
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