NBA Game Summary - Atlanta at Miami
(Monday, December 27th)
Final Score: Miami 116, Atlanta 102
Miami, FL (Sports Network) - Shaquille O'Neal poured in 31 points and Dwyane Wade added 29 along with nine assists as Miami established a franchise record with its 12th consecutive victory, a 116-102 decision over Atlanta at AmericanAirlines Arena.
O'Neal made 10-of-14 field-goal attempts and finished 11-of-14 from the foul line for the Heat, who rallied from a six-point deficit in the second half to record their 15th win in its last 16 meetings with the Hawks at home.
"I salute our guys," said Heat head coach Stan Van Gundy. "It's hard as heck to win this many games in a row. It's hard enough to win three games in a row. I give our team a lot of credit for continuing to do what they have done. Atlanta came in, like we thought they would, with a lot of energy and they played very hard and very well."
Antoine Walker netted 16 points for the Hawks but hit just 5-of-18 shots from the field. Predrag Drobnjak and Tony Delk also had 16 points in the loss, Atlanta's sixth in seven games.
"(The Heat) are probably the best team in the NBA right now, so playing them the way we did is a pretty good step in the right direction," said Hawks center Jason Collier, who had 15 points before fouling out in the fourth.
The Hawks were up 78-72 with four minutes left in the third quarter before Miami reeled off 13 straight points to forge ahead. After Rasual Butler's layup at the 2:37 mark of the period put the Heat in front 80-78, Damon Jones canned a three-pointer and Wade followed with a bucket to lengthen the margin to seven. A basket by Butler from beyond the arc with 19 seconds to go in the quarter staked the Heat to an 88-80 lead heading into the final 12 minutes.
Miami led by double-digits throughout much of the fourth quarter, but the Hawks closed to within six with 2:29 left when a pair of Walker free throws made it a 106-100 game. Christian Laettner then sunk two shots from the charity stripe and later put together a three-point play with 1:41 remaining to extend the margin to 11 points.
"I would rather do it the way we are doing it now, rather than breezing through games and then not knowing how to finish them at the end of the season," said Wade about the team's strong second half. "Right now it's just making us stronger and giving us great character."
The Hawks trailed 29-24 after one quarter of play but started the second with a 6-1 run, capped by Delk's basket 1:37 into the period, to draw even. Atlanta took its first lead since the game's opening stages when Al Harrington's three-point play with 2:14 left in the half made the score 52-51, and the visitors had a 56-55 edge at intermission.
Atlanta shot a sizzling 61.5 percent (24-of-39) in the first half.
Miami opened up a 19-12 lead after Jones' three-pointer midway through the first quarter and maintained a seven-point cushion until back-to-back buckets by Delk near the end of the period brought the Hawks to within 27-24. A transition dunk by Wade with 53 seconds left accounted for the Heat's five- point advantage after the first 12 minutes.
Miami also won 11 straight from January 27-February 20, 1997...The Heat improved to 18-0 this year when scoring at least 100 points and are now 17-2 against Eastern Conference foes...Miami's 13 wins in December also matched a franchise mark. The Heat went 13-2 in February, 1998...The attendance of 20,091 was the highest in team history.
12/28 00:14:41 ET