for this game

Heat ends slide with another victory over Hawks

Mar 27, 2007 - 5:45 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal, James Posey and a date with the Atlanta Hawks got the Miami Heat back on track.

O'Neal scored 22 points and Posey added 19 as Miami snapped a two-game losing streak with a 106-89 victory over the Hawks.

Miami is now 4-0 against Atlanta this season and has won 17 of the last 19 meetings between the teams. The Heat also have beaten the Hawks 11 straight times at home.

"It was a good win. It wasn't a great win," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "I still think our defense is lacking in some areas.

The Heat led, 57-52, at the half after Posey made four free throws in the final two seconds of the second quarter. He teamed with O'Neal for a run early in the third to put the game away.

"We just played hard and stuck to our game plan. We made sure we were in the right positions," Posey said. "We got out and ran a little bit. Shaq did a great job of knocking down his free throws. Everybody was just moving the ball and playing unselfish.

"When (O'Neal's) playing like that, at a higher level, it's great for the team. His presence down low opens opportunities for the rest of us. Everybody has benefited off his energy and the plays he's making."

Posey hit a 3-pointer and O'Neal scored the Heat's next five points to make it 64-53 just over 1:30 into the third. O'Neal made a free throw with 8:47 left in the quarter to make it 65-55 and Miami led by double digits the rest of the way.

Posey made 6-of-9 shots, including 3-of-4 from the arc, and added three steals.

"He was great. He really was the catalyst in the beginning in a lot of different ways," Riley said. "We made a point with our perimeter players today; don't get depressed and frustrated about your shooting. That's not what this is about."

Atlanta committed 32 fouls and most seemed to be against O'Neal, who got to the line 20 times and made 12. He entered the game needing 11 points to surpass former Indiana star Reggie Miller for 12th on the NBA's career scoring list. O'Neal passed Miller with a free throw in the first half.

O'Neal was more concerned about picking up the win than his new standing on the scoring list.

"We let two (games) slip away and we have 11-12 games left, so we have to start getting into a pre-playoff mode," he said. "Some people watch other games, but I am a firm believer that it's nice to have a home-(court) advantage, but true championship teams win at home and win on the road."

Salim Stoudamire scored 22 points off the bench and Josh Smith had 20 for the Hawks, who lost their fourth straight.

"We ended the (first) half without any momentum," Stoudamire said. "They came out in the third quarter and just jumped on us."

With the win, the Heat (38-32) moved into first place in the Southeast Division, one-half game ahead of Washington (37-32).

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