Heat 104, Kings 83

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MIAMI (AP)—Shaquille O’Neal’s birthday party started a little early.

O’Neal and many Miami Heat teammates were headed to South Beach for a bash Friday night, after getting double-digit scoring from all five starters and beating the slumping Sacramento Kings 104-83.

Dwyane Wade had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. O’Neal scored 18 points, giving him 23,177 for his career and tying him with Adrian Dantley for 17th in NBA history. And Eddie Jones had 17—including a 5-for-5 night from 3-point range—for Miami, which won its fourth straight overall and ninth in a row at home.

“I think we played pretty good defense overall,” said O’Neal, who actually turns 33 on Sunday. “We took care of the ball. We got a lot of guys involved. … If we play like that, we should be on our way. We just need to do what we’re supposed to do and maintain that toughness at home.”

O’Neal, from the bench, even joined in the sellout crowd’s chant of “We want Zo!” And they got their wish: Alonzo Mourning made his formal homecoming, scoring four points and adding four rebounds in the final 3:37.

“It was a good feeling,” said Mourning, who wore a home Heat uniform for the first time since the end of the 2001-02 season after rejoining the club this week. “I was just a little stiff, getting out there. I’m no spring chicken anymore.”

Mike Bibby had 22 points and seven assists for Sacramento, which capped a six-game road trip by losing for the 10th time in its last 14 games. Cuttino Mobley had 17 points and Peja Stojakovic added 15 for the Kings.

Damon Jones had 14 points, and Udonis Haslem had an 11-point, 13-rebound night for the Eastern Conference-leading Heat.

Another big second-half effort keyed the win. Miami, which outscored New Jersey 62-42 in a 16-point win Thursday night, shot 56.4 percent in the second half and outscored the Kings 56-42 after halftime.

“We didn’t get any stops,” Bibby said. “They were scoring. We weren’t.”

With starting center Brad Miller sidelined for the third straight game because of a sore calf, the Kings relied heavily on jump shots—10 of Sacramento’s first 11 field goals came from the perimeter.

“That’s who we are. We’re a jump-shooting team,” said Kings coach Rick Adelman. “We don’t have a low-post game. I don’t think we have anybody like Shaq I can think of, right offhand.”

But the Kings only connected on 40.5 percent of their first-half shots, and that, combined with Miami’s 24-8 inside-scoring edge in the opening two quarters, led to a 48-41 Heat lead at intermission.

“They looked like a team that was at the end of a long, long road trip,” said Heat coach Stan Van Gundy.

And down the stretch, Miami happily took advantage of the leg-weary Kings.

Sacramento hit its first three shots of the third quarter and closed with 48-47, but never regained the lead. Miami connected on 63.2 percent of its shots in the period, built a 78-66 lead entering the fourth and pulled away— improving to 36-2 when leading after three quarters.

The Kings, who were away from home for the ninth time in 10 games, never got closer than 12 in the final quarter.

“We’ve got to get home and regroup,” said Adelman, whose team will face Detroit at home Sunday. “We’ve got the world champs in 36 hours. We appreciate the league doing that for us.”

The Heat got a brief scare with 54.4 seconds left in the first half, when Kings center Brian Skinner pulled O’Neal down under the basket. O’Neal—who sprained his left knee 10 days earlier after another awkward tumble—fell over cameramen and fans, but was uninjured and made one of the two resulting free throws.


Miami was not called for a foul in the first quarter, marking the fifth foul-free quarter in franchise history and the first since Dec. 23, 2003, against Washington. … Stojakovic, in his second game since coming back from an injured hamstring, made his first three shots, then missed six of his next seven—including two airballs. … O’Neal was asked what teammates should get him for birthday gifts. “Nothing. I have it all,” he said. … Sacramento is 2-4 since trading Chris Webber to Philadelphia. … Celebrities at the game included actress Tara Reid and Indy Racing League driver Helio Castroneves, who’ll race at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
M. Bibby M. Bibby
8-15,  22 Pts
3 Rebs, 7 Assists
D. Wade D. Wade
8-16,  22 Pts
7 Rebs, 7 Assists

Team Stat Leaders