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Heat's win comes down to the line
By wire services
Published January 31, 2006
MIAMI - The Heat sank its final eight free throws - including three by Shaquille O'Neal - and beat the Clippers 118-114 Monday night.
Miami won with hot shooting from the field early, and from the free-throw line in the final 31/2 minutes.
Dwyane Wade, who clinched the win by making two free throws with eight seconds left, had 28 points, 11 assists and four blocks. O'Neal had 25 points and Gary Payton added 19, sinking a season-high five 3-pointers.
Elton Brand scored 31 for the Clippers, and Cuttino Mobley added 28 points and 11 assists.
The Heat won its third game in four nights, and it has won five of its last six. It snapped a five-game winning streak by the Clippers, who lost even though they tied their season-high point total.
Both teams cooled off after a torrid first half, but the Heat finished at 55 percent and the Clippers at 54.
Miami shot a season-best 67 percent in the first half, while Los Angeles was at 59 percent and trailed 67-62.
The Heat fell behind by six in the third quarter but rallied and took the lead at 85-84. There were four more lead changes to come.
Sam Cassell's 3-pointer put the Clippers up 109-108 with 2:30 to go, but the Heat regained the advantage on two free throws by O'Neal, and James Posey's 3-pointer made it 113-109.
James Singleton's 3-pointer with nine seconds left cut the margin to 115-114, but former UF star Udonis Haslem sank one free throw after being fouled before the ball was inbounded, and Wade's free throws sealed the win.
The Heat led 42-33 after the first, its highest-scoring quarter of the season. It made its first eight shots and went 17-for-22 (77 percent), tying the franchise record for field goals made in a quarter.
The Clippers fell behind 24-9 but came back, making 16 of their first 23 shots. They pulled even at 44 and took their first lead at 70-69 early in the third quarter.
Miami's Jason Williams, sidelined by a cut on his right ring finger, missed his 15th game this season.
The Clippers fell to 9-10 on the road. They're 2-12 when giving up more than 100 points.
GRIZZLIES 86, ROCKETS 77: Center Yao Ming returned after missing 21 games because of a toe injury and scored 15 for visiting Houston. Yao, Houston's leading rebounder and second-leading scorer, hadn't played since surgery Dec. 19. Former USF standout Chucky Atkins scored 19 in his first start for Memphis, the team he signed with a week ago after being released by the Wizards.
WOLVES 110, CELTICS 85: All four players acquired from the Celtics on Thursday had strong showings in a win over their former team.
Marcus Banks led the way with a season-high 20 points and six assists and Mark Blount added 16 points and 10 rebounds to support Kevin Garnett's 15 points and nine rebounds.
Just three days ago, the Timberwolves sent swingman Wally Szczerbiak, centers Michael Olowokandi and Dwayne Jones and a conditional first-round pick to the Celtics for swingman Ricky Davis, Blount, Banks, forward Justin Reed and two second-round picks.
Szczerbiak had 22 points, but that wasn't enough to overcome a spirited effort from Blount, Banks and the ex-Celtics.
Banks spearheaded a 9-0 run to end the third quarter that included a spectacular jump pass to Davis, who had nine points, five rebounds and five assists, for a fastbreak dunk.
The former Celtics put on a show for ex-coach Doc Rivers.
Blount was active in the paint, Banks was electrifying on several drives to the basket and even Reed jump-started a few fastbreaks by catching long outlet passes from Garnett.
The Wolves shot 57 percent from the field and held Paul Pierce to 7-for-23 shooting. Pierce finished with 21 points and the Celtics lost their fifth straight road game.
HORNETS 94, BUCKS 93: David West hit a foul line jumper with 0.1 seconds left to lift New Orleans in Oklahoma City. Speedy Claxton, who scored 12 of his 19 in the fourth quarter, took an inbounds pass with 7.1 seconds left and passed to West for the winner. Jamaal Magloire, traded from the Hornets to the Bucks in a preseason deal, put Milwaukee ahead on a layup with 7.6 seconds left but missed the ensuing free throw.
CAVS 103, BOBCATS 91: LeBron James scored 30 in only three quarters to help Cleveland extend host Charlotte's franchise record losing streak to 12 games. The Bobcats have not won since beating Houston in double overtime Jan. 10.
HAWKS 120, KNICKS 101: New York fell apart in the third quarter with a staggering 12 turnovers, which led to 17 points for the host Hawks. ... New York's Antonio Davis was set to return from his five-game suspension but was a late scratch with back problems.
OKAFOR OUT AGAIN: Bobcats forward Emeka Okafor will be out at least another five weeks with a sprained right ankle that has cost him 19 of the last 20 games. Okafor sprained his ankle Dec.19, missed eight games and returned Jan.10, but was reinjured in the Bobcats' double overtime win over Houston.
NO DUNKS FOR JAMES: LeBron James said he declined the league's request that he participate in its All-Star dunk contest but will be in the skills challenge Feb. 18.