Sat, 12 Mar 2005


Shaq fires up the Heat in taming of Timberwolves

Agencies, Miami

Shaquille O'Neal had 33 points as a simmering Miami Heat rode an 18-2 second-half surge to a seventh straight victory on Thursday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves.

O'Neal added 13 rebounds, was 10-for-18 from the floor and -- most surprisingly, considering he was a 46.2-percent foul shooter coming into the game -- hit on 13 of 18 tries from the line in the 107-90 win.

"Historically, I've shot 50 percent, so that's miss one and make one," said O'Neal.

"The more attempts I get, it's like more practice. ... I'm not going to miss them all."

Dwyane Wade added 20 points for the Heat, who won their 11th straight at home and expanded their lead in the Eastern Conference to eight games over idle Detroit.

Miami (47-16) has 19 regular-season games remaining.

Miami coach Stan Van Gundy for their ability to perk up their play after an out of sorts beginning.

"The real key stretch for us was at the end of the third quarter," said Van Gundy. "It was going south. They had an (eight-point) lead.

"We weren't playing very well, we weren't playing with a lot of energy and I thought that Keyon in particular gave us a real big lift in that stretch. Getting it tied was key."

Kevin Garnett had 22 points and 19 rebounds for Minnesota, which came in with a three-game winning streak. The Timberwolves had won seven of their last eight games against Miami and led by eight points with 2:21 left in the third quarter, but shot just 31.8 percent the rest of the way.

Troy Hudson added 20 points for Minnesota.

In Dallas, a free-flowing Kobe Bryant scored 36 points and made two huge plays on each end of the court in the last 1:20 to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 100-95 win over Dallas to start to a long road trip.

Bryant, who also had nine rebounds, grabbed one of them after Dallas missed two potential go-ahead shots with just over a minute left.

He took it all the way for a layup that put the Lakers up by three points, then came back and stripped Dirk Nowitzki from behind on a jump shot.

Bryant scooped up the loose ball and fed Jumaine Jones for a layup, but he missed and Bryant wound up putting it back in for a 98-93 lead with 58 seconds left.

Nowitzki, who scored 25 points but shot just 6-of-19, missed a 3-pointer with 11 seconds left that would have tied it at 98.

Nowitzki had been sidelined the previous two games with a sore left knee.

Teammate Josh Howard added 18 and 10 but he was limited to 29 minutes after suffering an ankle sprain in the second half.

Dallas fell to 20-11 at home after going 36-5 at American Airlines Center in 2003-04.

Los Angeles, in a tight, three-way race for the West's eighth and final playoff seed, had lost three straight games on the road.

The Lakers play 15 of their final 23 away from home, including six in a row starting with this one.