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Wade, O'Neal team up as Heat rout Bobcats

Feb 6, 2007 - 6:15 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Finally, Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal are starting to look like last season's deadly duo.

Wade collected 27 points, 12 assists and five rebounds, and O'Neal looked strong, scoring 22 points as the Miami Heat routed the Charlotte Bobcats, 113-93, for their fourth straight win.

Struggling with O'Neal missing 39 of the team's first 48 games, the Heat (23-25) now have won four straight and nine out of their last 12 contests with their legendary center rounding into form.

"It's coming together at the right time," O'Neal said. "There's still a chance for us to slide up there. The good thing about this conference is that teams haven't been that dominant. We have a chance to get one of those (top) four spots (in the conference), and I know we will."

Two nights ago, O'Neal netted 20 points in Miami's rout of Milwaukee and continued his stellar play on Monday. Looking energized from the start, he was 10-of-14 from the field in 21 minutes, taking the ball to the basket with force.

"We're getting (chemistry) back," O'Neal said. "Guys are looking for me, and I felt pretty loose. I'm just trying to get back into the flow of things. I'm not in 1,000 percent basketball shape. The more banging I get, I'll get into it."

Despite his return from injury, O'Neal still is playing limited minutes, leaving room for Wade to shine. The reigning NBA Finals MVP, Wade is known for his ability to score down the stretch but is emerging as talented playmaker this campaign.

"(Wade) was creating real easy baskets for me," O'Neal said. "That's what makes him a great player. He's makes it easy for everybody. Rather than try to bang, bang, bang and shoot jumpers all the time, he's penetrating and dropping the ball out. That's what makes him a great floor leader."

Averaging career highs in points (28.8) and assists (7.8) entering Monday's contest, Wade was 10-of-17 from the floor for Miami, which shot a season-high 62 percent (44-of-71) and outrebounded the Bobcats, 40-32.

"With Jason (Williams) out, I want to get more people involved and move the ball," Wade said. "I'm looking for guys to get open, and it helps to have Shaq on the inside. We have been anticipating Shaq coming back for a while. We knew it was going to take time to get back into form.

"He is getting back quicker than a lot of us expected. Early on (in games), we are trying to use him as much as possible. He is doing a great job with passing out of the post and getting guys open shots."

Raymond Felton scored 20 points and Emeka Okafor added 19 and 11 rebounds for Charlotte, which shot 46 percent (36-of-79).

"It was one of those games. They got on a roll, jumped on us early and we spent the whole game trying to fight back," Okafor said. "We could never quite get over that hump. They have a lot of talent on that team. Every time we thought we were making headway, they pulled back out."

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