Thu, Nov 11, 2004 - Page 20 News List

Shaq turns up the Heat

AMERICAN BASKETBALL Shaquille O'Neal had 20 points to help Miami beat Washington 103-93 and move to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history

AP , MIAMI, FLORIDAAP, NEW YORK

Brian Skinner, right, of the 76ers, fouls Trevor Ariza of the Knicks during the first half of their game in New York on Tuesday. New York won the game 96-88.

PHOTO: AP

Shaquille O'Neal promised to bring a championship to Miami. And although it's way too early to be thinking about titles, he can't wait to show off his new team to his old Western Conference rivals.

O'Neal had a season-high 20 points Tuesday to help Miami beat Washington 103-93 and move to 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. Any win is nice, of course, but beating the Wizards twice, Cleveland and New Jersey hardly proves the Heat are true contenders.

A pair of tests await Miami later this week, with Dallas visiting Thursday and then a game Friday at San Antonio.

O'Neal, who was traded to Miami by the Los Angeles Lakers in the summer, seems eager to face the likes of Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan again.

"We have some teams coming up that are tough to play," O'Neal said. "They shoot the ball well, so we are really going to have to play good defense against those guys. When we do what we are supposed to do, though, I always love our chances -- -- against any other team."

The Heat started 0-7 a year ago. Now, after trading with Lakers for the 11-time All-Star, Miami is one of only four unbeaten NBA teams; Indiana, Utah and Phoenix are also 4-0.

O'Neal did a little of everything Tuesday, finishing with nine rebounds, four assists, three blocks and nine turnovers as Miami won a team-record 14th straight regular-season home game.

"They give it to the big fella, and he makes it easy for them," Wizards center Brendan Haywood said.

Dwayne Wade continued his strong start, too, with 22 points and nine assists, and Udonis Haslem chipped in with 18 points and 10 rebounds for Miami.

"We're still learning each other," Heat guard Eddie Jones said. "It's a great thing when you're winning and you're continuing to learn about each other. What happens when we get it all together, that's what you're trying to get to."

Gilbert Arenas scored 20 points for Washington, and Antawn Jamison finished with 14, well off the 27.3-point average he carried into the game.

Washington made only 43.2 percent of its shots and committed 20 turnovers.

"We were bad on offense," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "We couldn't make a shot, couldn't make a play."

With O'Neal, the Heat haven't had any of those problems.

Miami is averaging 103.3 points and shooting 51.5 percent from the field. And Wade, benefiting in large part from the attention teams must give O'Neal, is averaging 27 points, on 57.4 percent shooting, and eight assists.

O'Neal's numbers are down, 16.5 points and 7.8 rebounds are well off his career averages. But as long as the Heat are winning, he says he doesn't mind.

"When I get the ball, the other team is going to have to do one of two things: Either come double, or watch and see what I do," O'Neal said.

Damon Jones added 12 points, all on 3-pointers, for Miami, which led by 29 points with 9:14 remaining, but was outscored 28-9 the rest of the way.

Magic 94, Mavericks 84

In Orlando, Grant Hill scored 17 points and had nine rebounds, and Steve Francis nearly posted a triple-double for Orlando.

Francis had 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, Hedo Turkoglu had 19 points in a reserve role, and rookie Dwight Howard added 15 points and 11 rebounds for Orlando.

Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 20 points, but made only five of 16 shots from the field. Dallas (4-1) shot just 29 percent (28 of 96) from the field.

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