Final - OT
  for this game

Heat clinch playoff spot with dramatic win over Cavs

Apr 6, 2007 - 7:30 AM CLEVELAND (Ticker) -- Despite an injury-riddled season, the Miami Heat are back to where they want to be.

Shaquille O'Neal and Antoine Walker scored 20 points apiece as the Heat clinched a playoff berth with a 94-90 overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Udonis Haslem scored 15 points for Miami (41-34), which holds a 1 1/2-game lead over Washington (39-35) for the top spot in the Southeast Division and the fourth seed in the East.

"Did we make (the playoffs) today?" Heat coach Pat Riley said. "Oh, good. I really thought we were not going to make it. My worst nightmare is to win a championship and not make the playoffs the next year. At one time, that was a possibility. That's good; we're in and we're shooting for a higher seed and better position."

Miami, which has been without its two best players - Shaquille O'Neal and Dwyane Wade - for a combined 67 games this season, has gone 14-7 in Wade's absence. Even more remarkable, the Heat have made up six games on the Wizards during that span.

"It says a lot about this team," Haslem said. "We've been through so much adversity, from (O'Neal) going down, to Dwyane going down, to (Jason) Kapono and guys in and out of the lineup, and coach Riley's surgery.

"But this team has stuck together. It's a tremendous accomplishment at this stage in the season to clinch, but we've still got to work to get the highest seed that we can."

The defending NBA champions, Miami has won four of its last six games and is picking up momentum heading into the postseason thanks to O'Neal, who shot 9-of-13 and grabbed eight rebounds.

Walker was 7-of-11 for the Heat, who outscored the Cavaliers, 11-7, in the extra period to secure the victory. With each passing game, he is starting to embrace his new role.

"This is a different role for me," Walker said. "It's very difficult to come off the bench. I've never done that before in my career. I just go out and play, and try not to worry about scoring."

Superstar LeBron James had a chance to win the game on the final play of regulation, but he failed to pass the ball out of a double-team on the perimeter and misfired from the arc as time expired.

"I just try to be aggressive and get the best shot up possible," James said. "Good execution, bad execution? I don't know. The shot just didn't go."

James collected 35 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the Cavaliers (45-31), who fell into a tie with Chicago (45-31) for second place in the Central Division but now are in fifth place in the East with the Bulls owning the tiebreaker.

Chicago takes over the second spot - 3 1/2 games behind idle Detroit (48-27).

"It's a tough loss because we finally put ourselves in position to have a chance to win it down the stretch," Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. "We had a chance to win it and we didn't. It's tough after battling back from a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter."

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