Heat Beat Snowbirding Celtics

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The Heat pulled out a106-104victory over the Boston Celtics even though the two-point margin was a little too close for comfort despite Shaquille O'Neal tying a Heat franchise record set by Clarence Weatherspoon by going nine-for-nine from the field. Dwyane Wade bothered a double-pumping Ricky Davis jump shot in the corner as time expired.

Miami gave up an astonishing 33 fast break points to Boston as the Celtics guys were, as Shaq puts it, snowbirding, which if I understand correctly, is Shaq-speak for cherry-picking. The Heat found themselves down ten in the first quarter after only a few minutes of play but then Shaq Daddy stepped up and brought them in. After an incredible first half, Miami went on a 13-0 run, their largest streak of unanswered points this season, and even had a ten-point lead in the fourth before more "snowbirding" brought the Celtics to within two with 11 seconds to go. But a fouled Paul Pierce missed his first free throw, and made his second, so they had to foul Christian Laettner, who also made one. That step up the final Ricky Davis shot with time expiring.

Wade as usual had a tremendous game. He was three steals and four blocks shy of a five-by-five, and one assists and five rebounds shy of a triple-double. He and Shaq combined for 46 points, approximately their average this season. Shaq was the only player in the whole game to have double-digit rebounds as he logged 13. He also had two blocked shots. The Heat outblocked the Celtics 9-4.

The Heat did not have a dominating night on the boards overall, however. They were within one rebound total of Boston. What really kept the game close was the 90 percent free throw shooting by the Celtics, which is only ironic given that Pierce's only missed free throw was the one that would have tied the game and probably sent the game into overtime.

The Heat (10-5) have their last home game before starting a four-game road trip as they host the Toronto Raptors (6-9). Will Vince Carter still be on the roster by the time they play tomorrow night, Tuesday, November 30, at 7:30pm? To find out, watch either SCORE or the Sunshine Network or NBA League Pass.

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Miss your chance for 2004-05 HEAT Season Tickets? Don’t despair...join the Heat Hopefuls Waiting Listand be first in line to get season tickets for the 2005-06 HEAT season.

Jerome Beasley(back),Malik Allen(back) andDorell Wright(abdominal) are on the Heat's injured list.


Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: If Shaquille O'Neal has learned anything in his 12-plus years in the NBA, it's that opposing teams use any scheme possible to get a win against his team. That's why he's not surprised the Boston Celtics desperately were trying to get easy baskets by sending players to the opposite end on every Heat jump shot. ''A lot of teams are going to do that,'' O'Neal said. ``What happened tonight is they were snowbirding.Whenever Dwyane [Wade] went up for the shot, they just went by.'' But the Celtics went by enough to score 33 fast-break points -- a statistic that had Heat coach Stan Van Gundy furious. ''Thirty-three fast break points is absolutely absurd,'' Van Gundy said. "We were giving up 11 a game."

Israel Gutierrez ofThe Miami Heraldwrites: ''The decision-making tonight was ridiculous,'' Van Gundy said.``There were people open all over the place. All you have to do is see the weak-side defender on Shaq and move the ball to the open man. We couldn't do it. Guys wanted to try to do stuff on their own. It was a horrible fourth quarter.''

Ira Winderman ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: At 10-5, the Heat is on pace for 55-27, a regular-season finish better than what Detroit produced on the way to last season's NBA title.It also would match the Heat's best record since 1997-98. But upon closer inspection, this 10-5 is somewhat counterfeit. The victories have been over New Jersey, Cleveland, Utah, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Boston, as well as Milwaukee and Washington twice apiece. The losses have come against Dallas, San Antonio, Minnesota, Portland and Detroit. It doesn't take keen NBA insight to note the imbalance between the haves and have-nots on those lists.

Michael Cunningham ofThe South Florida Sun-Sentinelwrites: O'Neal got a rebound on the baseline in the second quarter. Al Jefferson, stuck behind O'Neal, pushed him, hacked him and then finally grabbed O'Neal. It didn't matter. O'Neal dunked and drew the foul call.