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Heat throw one away against Bobcats

Nov 5, 2007 - 3:59 AM MIAMI (Ticker) -- The Miami Heat threw away a chance to complete a late rally and continued their early slide.

The Heat overcame a big deficit to tie the game late, but a pair of late turnovers and some clutch free-throw shooting by the Charlotte Bobcats resulted in another loss for the Heat, 90-88, on Sunday.

Miami is 0-3 for the first time since 2003-04, while Charlotte is 2-0 for the first time in its history.

"(2-0) is a streak for us," Bobcats coach Sam Vincent said. "I think we won four games in the month of November last year. Jason Richardson was great today. We acquired Jason to be the go-to guy, the scorer, and he was all that tonight. He shot the ball very well and he defended very well."

Richardson, who came over from Golden State in an offseason trade, scored 29 points for the Bobcats, who led by 16 in the fourth before the Heat came roaring back.

"It seemed like everything was going for me," Richardson said. "It's fun when you get to that level where everything is going in. It gives you confidence and your teammates confidence and you play harder on the other end. It's an amazing feeling when you've got your shot going like that."

With the game tied at 86-86, Raymond Felton made a pair from the line with 50 seconds to play. On the ensuing possession, Miami guard Chris Quinn got into the lane but his kick-out pass was intercepted by Gerald Wallace.

Felton, who scored 19 points, then had his layup blocked by Shaquille O'Neal with 16 seconds to go, but the Heat turned the ball over again as Ricky Davis threw a pass inside that went across the court and out of bounds with 2.2 seconds remaining.

"Chris, I think, he tried to lob the ball to Shaq," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "I think that's the play he was trying to make. They simply deflected it. ... Ricky made the right play, too. He just fired it 9,000 miles-an-hour. Shaq's hands were right there."

"You've just got to make that pass and got to make that play," Davis said. "It was a big play for us. The pass was too hard."

Udonis Haslem scored 18 points and added 10 rebounds and O'Neal scored 17 points for the Heat.

"We just kept going to J-Rich," Bobcats guard Jeff McInnis said. "He's a great player. He can stretch the court with his threes, go inside and get fouls, and he plays a good post-up game. He's a great go-to guy."

Trailing, 85-75, with 5:31 left, Miami went on a 10-1 run to tie the game, 86-86, when Quinn found Davis open for three in the right corner.

But for the Heat, who haven't been the same since winning the NBA title in 2006, things didn't click after that.

"We ran something we are very familiar with at the end," Riley said. "We got the ball to Ricky. Ricky had a baseline move. I think if he had taken one more dribble to the middle, he probably could have gotten all the way to the middle."

The Heat had an "atrocious" - to use Riley's term - third quarter, shooting just 7-of-22 from the field.

O'Neal hit 4-of-5 shots in the first half, for eight points, but was limited to just 13 minutes due to foul trouble. This coming on the heels of two games in which he was whistled for 11 fouls.

Richardson had 18 points in the first half for Charlotte, nailing 4-of-6 shots from the arc.

The game was tied, 27-27, after one quarter, but with O'Neal on the bench, Charlotte pushed the lead to nine on Richardson's layup just before the break. The Bobcats led 55-48 at halftime.

Charlotte had a scare when Wallace drove to the basket and came down hard after a collision with Alonzo Mourning and Dorrell Wright with 9:05 to play in the second. He grabbed his left knee and was down on the court for a few minutes, but returned shortly thereafter.

Charlotte was coming off an Opening Night, 102-99, victory over Milwaukee, despite shooting 51 percent at the free-throw line. Against the Heat, however, the Bobcats converted on 18-of-22 attempts.

"It feels great," Wallace said of the team's start. "Just the confidence that the team has. A lot of times, we've been in big games and we've had the lead and around the fourth quarter they tie the game up, we'd get confused or the team wouldn't know what to do.

"I think the last two games the team has made progress, and they know how to control the offense and defense."

Without All-Star guard Dwyane Wade, who has been given clearance to return to full-contact in practice after offseason shoulder and knee surgeries, the Heat have struggled early in finding someone to attack the rim and get to the free-throw line.

"We are close," O'Neal said. "We are still making a lot of silly mistakes. These past few games we were just shooting ourselves in the foot, so we just have to do a little bit better."

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