for this game

O'Neal carries undermanned Heat past Pistons

Mar 3, 2007 - 6:10 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Superstar Shaquille O'Neal and the Miami Heat reminded the Detroit Pistons that they are still the defending champions.

O'Neal had a season-high 31 points and 15 rebounds as the Heat jumped out early and held on for an 85-82 triumph over the Pistons, who had their four-game winning streak snapped.

Antoine Walker scored 22 points and James Posey added 10 and seven rebounds for Miami, which won for just the third time in 14 regular-season matchups against Detroit.

"We responded and answered the challenge," Walker said. "Luckily, we made the plays down the stretch and did enough to win."

It was O'Neal's best all-around performance since returning from mid-season knee surgery.

"Just gives me the ball and I go to work," O'Neal said. "I am the badest big man for my age bracket, and when I say that I mean the older guys like myself; the 35-something."

"(Shaquille's) getting better and better against single coverage," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "When the ball went inside to him, they just collapsed. I actually think he's more fundamental than he's ever been, with his moves, by taking his time and showing real patience. That's what we need out of Shaq."

Behind 25 points by O'Neal, the Heat held an impressive 50-31 lead after two quarters, but the Pistons stormed back in the third to make things interesting.

Detroit connected on 10-of-19 shots en route to outscoring Miami, 26-11, to close within 61-57 at the start the decisive fourth period.

Antonio McDyess drained a jumper from the top of the key and Tayshaun Prince scored on a breakaway layup with 3:14 left in the game, giving the Pistons their first lead of the game, 74-73.

A few minutes later, O'Neal drew a charge against Prince, then found Walker for a 3-pointer as the Heat grabbed an 80-78 lead with 1:04 left.

"I believe in Antoine," O'Neal said. "He just needs to keep shooting. We all know what he can do and we support him."

"That charge call on me against Shaq put the momentum back in their favor," Prince said. "The game was pretty much in our hand and we had great opportunities."

It was just O'Neal's second charge taken this year.

"That's what I'm out there to do," O'Neal said. "I do whatever I need to do. Like I said, I'm big and bad when I need to be."

After both teams traded baskets, Jason Williams and Eddie Jones made 3-of-4 free throws as Miami opened an 85-80 bulge with 12 seconds to play.

Following two foul shots by Chauncey Billups, Detroit had a chance to send the game into overtime after Prince picked off Gary Payton's pass. But Billups misfired on a 3-pointer and Richard Hamilton also missed from long range as time expired.

"I thought Tayshaun was going to shoot it and I was going to try to get the rebound," Billups said. "When he threw it to me I was thinking we were down three so I was going to circle out."

"I still really couldn't get a good look at it. I should have just taken the two and we would have been down one, then we could have fouled. But it was a tough judgment call."

Prince had 22 points and seven rebounds and Hamilton netted 20 for the Pistons, who were without temperamental forward Rasheed Wallace due to a sprained left foot.

Despite the loss, McDyess picked up some the slack left by Wallace, collecting 17 points and 12 rebounds off the bench in 27 minutes.

  • NBA
    DETROIT 82

    Mar 2 10:39 PM
  • 72
    RUWTbot Added 38 roots

    Pistons vs. HeatMar 2 10:28 PM
  • 34
    RUWTbot Added 34 roots

    Pistons vs. HeatMar 2 10:21 PM

  • NBA
    DETROIT 57

    Mar 2 9:55 PM

  • NBA
    DETROIT 31

    Mar 2 9:07 PM

  • NBA
    DETROIT 15

    Mar 2 8:32 PM