MIAMI (AP) -- Pat Riley didn't want a homecoming party. Shaquille
O'Neal gave him one anyway.
O'Neal hit his first eight shots and finished with 28 points in
only 24 minutes, and the Miami Heat beat the Atlanta Hawks 111-92
Tuesday night in Riley's first home game since replacing Stan Van
Gundy as coach.
It was Miami's second-biggest home win of the season; the Heat
had outscored opponents in their first 11 home games by an average
of only four points.
"I hope that tonight is kind of the start of an attitude that
we'll take here at home, especially at home, where we're not going
to have close games or we're going to make sure that we're going to
win a lot of games here at home," Riley said. "Because the road
"It's my job to make him look good," O'Neal said. "He's a
very good looking man, so it's my job to keep him looking good."
O'Neal's perfect start wasn't terribly difficult -- he had six
dunks and two layups in the opening half. He set the tone for
Miami, which held Atlanta to a season-low nine points in the first
quarter and built a 56-35 halftime lead on the way to beating the
Hawks for the ninth straight time.
"They utilized him," Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. "Not that
Van Gundy didn't, but with Pat, he makes them go through Shaq and
then play. And that's how it should be."
Marvin Williams had 17 of his career-high 26 points in the
fourth quarter for Atlanta, which trailed by 38 points midway
through the third quarter before trimming the deficit against
Miami's reserves. Josh Childress had 14 points, Joe Johnson added
13 and Al Harrington had 12 for the Hawks, who fell to 2-12 on the
There was no special pregame tribute to commemorate Riley's
first game back on the Heat sideline since April 13, 2003. Some
fans gave a brief ovation when he was announced as the coach after
Miami's starters were introduced, but that represented the only
deviation from the norm -- which is what Riley preferred.
O'Neal went 13-for-15 from the field against Atlanta centers
Zaza Pachulia and John Edwards -- both of whom yielded at least 60
pounds to the 12-time All-Star, who easily established position all
night. He left the game with 4:56 left in the third quarter.
"Having him back healthy, you can't stop him," Edwards said.
"He's huge, he's skilled, he moves very well. Everybody sees it.
He's the most dominant player in the league."
The only drama came midway through the first quarter, when Wade
was shaken up under the Heat basket and remained down for a couple
of minutes. He said he was "smacked" in the eye and was taken to
the locker room, but returned later in the quarter with no apparent
distress. There was some swelling after the game.
"Coach told us to come in and play well on our home floor,"
Wade said. "Teams that you're supposed to beat, you've got to beat
them. That's what we did tonight. At the same time, having a big
lead and guys having the opportunity to rest was big also."
Harrington made a pair of free throws with 8:06 left in the half
to cut Miami's lead to 26-17, but the Heat ended the half on a
30-18 run. O'Neal and Payton each had eight points in that burst,
and Miami kept rolling in the third quarter.
Royal Ivey scored the first points of the second half on a
jumper for Atlanta, which then allowed the Heat to run off 11
unanswered points to put the game away.
O'Neal had the final six points of that run, and with 9:08 left
in the third, he was 11-for-12 from the floor for 23 points -- while
Atlanta was 13-for-40 and had managed 37 points.
The Hawks outscored Miami 32-19 in the fourth.
Atlanta's Tyronn Lue -- who's probably listed generously as
6-foot, 178 pounds on Atlanta's roster -- took a charge from Miami's
6-foot-8, 235-pound Udonis Haslem midway through the opening
quarter. ... Miami hadn't led any game by more than 29 points this
season. ... Atlanta's starters were outscored 66-34. ... The Heat
were without C Alonzo Mourning (upper respiratory infection) and G
Jason Williams (knee tendinitis). ... Marvin Williams had scored
only 23 points in his last six games combined for the Hawks. ...
Miami is auctioning off the jerseys Wade and O'Neal will wear
against the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas Day. Wade's jersey is
already fetching $6,200 in the online bidding; O'Neal's $5,050.
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