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Archive for Monday, December 20, 2004

Miami claims eighth straight victory

Shaq’s passing down stretch helps Heat bounce Magic, 117-107

December 20, 2004

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— When the Miami Heat gave Shaquille O'Neal a chance to keep their winning streak going, he passed. Twice.

Two nifty assists by O'Neal sparked a 13-point run late in the fourth quarter by the Heat, who won their eighth game in a row, beating the Orlando Magic, 117-107, Sunday night.

"I found my shooters a couple of times," O'Neal said. "They know if they get open, I'm going to hit them for the high-percentage shot."

The Heat trailed much of the game and were down 103-102 with five minutes left before O'Neal helped them surge ahead.

On consecutive possessions, O'Neal hit a dunk, fed Eddie Jones for a three-pointer that put Miami ahead to stay, then passed to Christian Laettner for a layup to make it 107-103. O'Neal's three-point play a minute later made it 110-103.

"At the end we just ran everything through Shaq," coach Stan Van Gundy said.

O'Neal finished with 27 points and five assists.

Led by their new center, the Heat are on their longest winning streak since March 1998. The past four victories have come against teams above .500.

"We're getting better and putting together wins," O'Neal said.

Steve Francis led Orlando with 31 points, many on acrobatic, slashing shots.

Raptors 110, Nets 99

Toronto -- Lamond Murray scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter.

Vince Carter wasn't at the Air Canada Centre because Toronto's trade with New Jersey isn't expected to be finalized until noon today.

Murray, who could play more now that Carter is gone, scored 12 points as the Raptors began the fourth quarter on a 17-4 run.

His three gave Toronto a 96-80 lead with 6:53 left. New Jersey never crept closer than 11 the rest of the way. Morris Peterson added 20 points. Richard Jefferson had 38 points for the Nets. Carter, a five-time All-Star, is on the injured list because of a strained left Achilles.

Knicks 94, Jazz 93

New York -- Jamal Crawford scored 11 of his 24 points in the final five minutes.

Crawford's running floater made it 90-86 with 27 seconds left, and Stephon Marbury's two free throws with 6.4 remaining gave New York a four-point lead.

Marbury had 19 points and 12 assists, Michael Sweetney scored 13, and Kurt Thomas grabbed 14 of the Knicks' 29 rebounds as New York won at home over the Jazz for the first time in more than eight years.

Matt Harpring scored 21, Raja Bell added 20, and Carlos Boozer 19 for the Jazz, who dropped their seventh consecutive road game.

Kings 107, Hornets 71

Sacramento, Calif. -- Peja Stojakovic scored 21 points, and Sacramento pulled away in the second half. Brad Miller had 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists.

Grizzlies 92, Clippers 82

Los Angeles -- Pau Gasol scored six of his 20 points in the final 5:05, Jason Williams added a pair of three-pointers down the stretch, and Memphis beat the Los Angeles Clippers. Mike Miller's fourth three-pointer of the game and 500th of his career capped a 13-2 run that turned a 2-point deficit into an 85-79 lead for Memphis.

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