After winning in his return to the bench, Miami coach Pat Riley hopes to make it two straight victories when the Heat visit the streaking Milwaukee Bucks.
Riley’s second tenure as Miami’s coach got off to a successful start Tuesday, thanks in large part to the center he traded for last season.
“We have a new leader, and we just have to go out and get the job done,” center Shaquille O’Neal said before Tuesday’s game.
O’Neal led by example, scoring 30 points in a 100-97 victory at Chicago.
Riley, the team president, stepped back into his old job Monday, when Stan Van Gundy resigned.
“I’m still caught up in the emotion of it,” Riley said. “I’ve always been somebody who likes continuity. I don’t like a lot of change.”
Riley does like winning, however, and it’s much easier with O’Neal healthy and active on both sides of the floor. The big man made his first start Tuesday in his second game back for Miami since spraining his right ankle—an injury that knocked him out of 18 games.
“You coach on instinct,” Riley said. “It’s going to take some time for me to get real comfortable with all the things you have to do at the end of the game. It’s going to take me time to get up to speed on everything.”
However, Riley will take a more cautious approach with injured point guard Jason Williams, who missed his third consecutive game Tuesday with right knee tendinitis.
“He is a very valuable player and I’m not going to take chances with a guy,” Riley said. “My career ended with quadriceps tendinitis, it ended a long time before that actually, but I’m not going to take chance with him.”
The Bucks are looking for their fourth straight win after a 112-92 win at New York on Monday night. Michael Redd finished with 31 points to lead Milwaukee, which improved to 6-4 on the road. Milwaukee won only seven road games all of last season.
“In order to make a statement in this league, you’ve got to win on the road and so we’re doing that,” Redd said. “That was our goal this year.”
Milwaukee has won six of its last seven overall.
The Bucks will be without guard Bobby Simmons for the third straight game. Simmons, who is fourth on the team with 12.3 points per game, hurt his shoulder in a win over Cleveland on Saturday.
STANDINGS (through Dec. 13): Heat - 1st place, Southeast Division. Bucks - 2nd place (tied), 3 1/2 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Heat - Wade, 26.7 ppg and 6.9 apg; Alonzo Mourning, 8 rpg. Bucks - Redd, 25.3 ppg; Magloire, 9.9 rpg; Ford, 7 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Bucks, 1-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 6; Bucks, 105-11. At Milwaukee, Simmons and Redd each scored 23 points to lead the Bucks.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Heat - 4-7 on the road; Bucks - 6-3 at home.