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Without Kapono, Heat's Jones shoots down Bulls

Mar 8, 2007 - 5:34 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- With Jason Kapono sidelined, Eddie Jones was the sharpshooter for the Miami Heat.

Playing without the sweet-shooting Kapono, Jones scored 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter as the Heat exacted a measure of revenge on the Chicago Bulls with a thorough 103-70 victory.

Shaquille O'Neal scored 24 points and fell one rebound and two assists shy of a triple-double for Miami, which has won five of its last six games.

"I think now we're (one game) out of that fourth spot (in the conference)," O'Neal said. "So, we just want to keep gaining ground and hopefully teams ahead of us keep sliding. We're finally playing good basketball instead of running all over the place."

A 6-8 forward who always has had a sweet stroke, Kapono has come into his own this season. Playing off superstars Dwyane Wade and O'Neal, he has used his spot-up skills to shoot a league-leading 51.3 percent from 3-point range and average 11.1 points, third on the the team.

But in Monday's win over Atlanta, Kapono sprained his right ankle and an MRI revealed a bone bruise. A mid-season pickup from Memphis, Jones picked up the slack by doing his best Kapono impression, shooting 8-of-11 from the field - including 6-of-8 on 3-pointers.

"(Jones) gives a different dimension," Miami coach Pat Riley said. "As a defender, he really competes at the position and he made about six real nice trigger passes into Shaq tonight. ... What a jewel find for us. We really needed him."

Jones admitted he felt like he could not miss.

"It looked like a peach basket - real big," Jones said. "It felt good. I got wide-open shots. Shaquille did a tremendous job of swinging the ball out and kicking the ball out."

O'Neal played one of his strongest games of the season, creating many of his teammates' open shots and nailing 12-of-18 shots from the floor for the Heat, who shot 55 percent (43-of-78) from the field and 10-of-23 from the arc.

Miami had lost all three meetings with Chicago this season, including a 108-66 trouncing here on Opening Night that took the luster off the championship rings that were handed out prior to that contest.

"I think this time we took them a bit more serious," O'Neal said. "We knew we owed this team. They hate us for some reason, which is fine. They use us a steppingstone so we just had to let them know that we're still there."

"We had to confront a team, basically, that outscored us by 17 points, outrebounded us by 15 rebounds a game, outshot us from the free-throw line, 85-58," Riley said. "They just dominated us in three games. It was like they toyed with us."

The Heat turned that around on Wednesday, running away from the Bulls in the fourth quarter, outscoring them, 33-14.

In his first game since netting a career-high 48 points on Sunday, Ben Gordon scored just 14 on 6-of-18 shooting for Chicago, which shot just 35 percent (26-of-74).

"It was kind of shocking, they came out and their effort just hit us in the face," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "We had no response for it; we could not go with them to that level they were playing at. We tried to mix it up with different lineups, and we got close in the third, but we shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers again."

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