16 Aralık 2007

Home struggles continue for Heat

An O'Neal snapped out of his production slump late in Saturday night's game at AmericanAirlines Arena. Unfortunately for the Heat, his first name wasn't Shaquille.

Jermaine O'Neal scored 12 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, including six to start the go-ahead run en route to the Pacers' 106-103 victory.

The Heat had a chance to send it to overtime, but Dwyane Wade's three-point attempt from the corner with 1.8 seconds left rimmed out and extended Miami's struggles at home.

Whatever momentum the Heat (6-17) brought back after winning the final two games of its recent Western Conference trip was squandered by its second loss in as many games since the team returned.

The Heat has lost eight of 10 at home and has the second-worst overall record in the league, ahead of only Minnesota.

The Heat plays host to the Timberwolves on Monday in the first meeting between the reeling teams since their five-player trade just days before the season started.

''Not to try to give a philosophical bent, but you give everything you have and wonder why you feel such pain,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said after his team played well for three quarters and faded late again. ``We're not reacting well to adversity in the fourth quarter. When it gets tough, we've got to get tougher.''

The Pacers (12-12) trailed 79-78 entering the fourth, but opened the period with a 17-6 run to take control. They took their biggest lead on a pair of free throws from Jermaine O'Neal that made it 99-88 with 5:58 left in the game.

Jermaine O'Neal wouldn't be around for the finish. He went to the locker room with 2:14 left in the game after he banged his head for the second time in the quarter. He caught an elbow from Shaquille O'Neal early in the quarter on a drive to the basket. The second hit came after a collision as he drew a change against Wade and banged his head on the court.

The Heat closed to within 105-103 on Ricky Davis' three-pointer with 3.7 seconds left. But Jamaal Tinsley's free throw extended the lead to three just before Wade missed at the buzzer.

Tinsley scored 17 of his game-high 26 in the first half. Udonis Haslem scored a season-high 24 points and Wade also scored 24 for the Heat, which lost for only the second time this season after it carried a lead into the fourth quarter.

The Heat had plenty of chances in the fourth, but it kept getting outworked for rebounds. The Pacers outrebounded the Heat 42-38, but had a 13-9 edge on the offensive boards, including a critical snag while clinging to a 103-100 lead with 30 seconds left in the game.

''I told the guys that was on me tonight,'' center Alonzo Mourning said. ``The rebounds, those are the things that make the difference in the outcome of the game. That's been somewhat of our downfall. We just haven't been rebounding well at all.''

Despite the headache at the end, it was one of the better games for the season for Jermaine O'Neal, who entered Saturday averaging just 15.2 points a game this season, the lowest of his career as a starter.

Shaquille O'Neal continued his stretch of limited production. He fouled out with 12 points and three rebounds in 26 minutes. O'Neal was just 4 of 7 from the field, making it the ninth time in 10 games that he has attempted fewer than 10 shots.

The game came a day after Friday's emotional practice. Riley ended a quick film session with a lengthy team discussion about confidence and faith, and he drew an imaginary line through the room and challenged his players to choose a side. They could go right, get on track and salvage the season. Or they could go left, and continue down a frustrating path of inconstant play and losses.

The Heat carried the momentum from that motivational method into the first quarter. It made its first five shots, forced an open-court pace and led 18-8 after consecutive lob passes from Wade led to dunks by Haslem and Dorell Wright.

But as has been the case most of the season when the offense has flowed, the Heat didn't match that effort and execution on the other end. Despite shooting 70.6 percent from the field in the first quarter, the Heat carried only a 27-25 lead into the second.

The Heat couldn't keep the Pacers off the offensive glass and couldn't stop Tinsley from driving into the lane and scoring or creating open shots on the perimeter.

The Pacers outworked the Heat 10-0 on the offensive glass for an 8-0 edge in second-chance points in the first half.

''It's getting to be kind of repetitive-sounding,'' Haslem said. ``This was another situation where if we play the way we're capable of playing, we win. But we don't, so we didn't.''

kaynak : NBA