Heat rally past Bobcats, 91-85
Published: Saturday, January 28, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 28, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Forget the struggles against the NBA's top teams and the erratic play against everyone else, Shaquille O'Neal thinks its way too early to determine just how far the Miami Heat will go this season.
"I don't worry about it yet," O'Neal said after the Heat had to rally to a 91-85 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night. "I've made it to the (NBA) Finals with a perfect record, I've made it to the Finals with a so-so record, I've made it to the Finals from the fifth spot.
"So right now, we're in the second spot (in the Eastern Conference) and we're fine. We still have a lot of opportunity to get it done, but its up to us."
O'Neal had 23 points and Antoine Walker scored 12 of his 15 in the final quarter to help the Heat pull out the win.
Miami should have easily handled the injury-ravaged Bobcats, but instead trailed through most of the first three quarters. Playing without guards Dwyane Wade and former Gator Jason Williams, the Heat were barely able to stick with the Bobcats and had just 30 points at halftime.
It was disconcerting struggle for a team that is 0-6 this season against the four teams with the best record in the NBA, and needs to rack up the easy wins to keep its front-runner status.
Coach Pat Riley isn't panicking just yet.
"I truly believe when all the parts are healthy, I know how good we are," Riley said. "I've said it over and over again and I will continue to say it: I just think this team can do it, can do something special.
"We know there are going to be nights like these."
The Heat avoided an embarrassing loss behind Walker, who stepped up in the fourth quarter with three straight baskets to finally put Miami in control and hand the Bobcats their 10th consecutive loss.
"It's real important to get him, he's our missing link," O'Neal said. " He's going to be our Robert Horry. We need him to step up and hit shots and be consistent with the high-percentage shot."
Eddy Curry had 27 points and 10 rebounds, and host New York held off Orlando to snap a six-game losing streak.
The Knicks avoided their second seven-game skid of the season - they lost seven in a row in December. Orlando had won its last five and was looking for its first six-game winning streak since March 2002.
But the Magic were sloppy and lacked energy for most of the game, a night after needing overtime to win at Philadelphia. Orlando committed 22 turnovers, leading to 23 points.
Ron Artest's 15 points weren't enough in his Sacramento debut and host Boston Celtics got 18 points from Paul Pierce to beat the Kings for just the second time in 12 tries.
Artest wore out his welcome in Indiana and was traded to Sacramento for Peja Stojakovic on Wednesday in an attempt to turn around the Kings' sinking season. Although Artest provided a spark - scoring seven of the team's first 15 points - Sacramento fizzled in the fourth quarter and made under 31 percent of its shots overall in its worst shooting night of the season.
Zydrunas Ilgauskas made 12 of 12 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with 27 points for the visiting Cavaliers.
Ilgauskas also had six rebounds and LeBron James had 30 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Boris Diaw scored 25 points in his first game in Atlanta since he was traded, leading the visiting Suns to their second straight win.
Diaw, who was a forgotten backup for the Hawks before he was traded to Phoenix last summer, added eight rebounds and five assists.
Chauncey Billups scored 34 points and host Detroit won its 10th straight game.
With the Pistons down 81-78, Billups hit four straight free throws to put Detroit ahead with 2:27 to go.
Bobby Simmons scored 18 points and host Milwaukee held Toronto to another miserable shooting performance.
Ben Gordon scored 26 points and Tyson Chandler grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds to lead host Chicago to a victory over Washington.
Forward Chris Andersen was dismissed and disqualified from the NBA for violating the league's drug policy.
Andersen must wait two years before he can apply for reinstatement, the league said.
Troubled former NBA player Isaiah Rider appeared in court to face kidnapping charges but did not enter a plea because he did not have a lawyer.
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