|Down a game to Bulls, Heat not pushing panic button|
|Written by Admin|
|Sunday, 22 April 2007 11:23|
``I take nothing back,'' O'Neal said Sunday.
That means he's still frustrated with the way Saturday's 96-91 Bulls win in Game 1 of their first-round matchup was officiated, how he only got eight shot attempts in his final 21 minutes of action before fouling out, and how Miami's penchant for defensive lapses helped give Chicago the upper hand.
Yet, he knows all is not lost for the defending NBA champions.
``We still had opportunities to win,'' O'Neal said. ``They played their best ball. We just have to continue to try to match their energy and limit our mistakes.''
That was a theme everyone emerging from the Heat locker room shared Sunday.
Eddie Jones called Miami's porous transition defense in Game 1 ``absurd.'' Dwyane Wade acknowledged again that his physical woes, primarily a sore knee, limit his offensive explosiveness and defensive ability. And James Posey, without saying the actual words, seemed to suggest that he wants more of a chance to guard Chicago's Luol Deng in Game 2.
Posey and Deng have history - Posey was ejected for a hard foul against Deng during Miami's game in Chicago on Dec. 27. Deng averaged 10 points in the regular season against Miami, then went off for 33 on 14-for-22 shooting in Game 1 - so clearly, whatever plan the Heat had for him Saturday didn't work.
``No comment,'' Posey said, when asked if the Heat used a different scheme on Saturday against Deng - who had a total of 12 baskets in four games against Miami during the season, then eclipsed that by two in Game 1. ``He played a great game.''
Miami cannot say the same. Other than Antoine Walker's 20-point effort in 30 minutes off the bench, no Heat player truly seemed to shine in the series opener. Wade and O'Neal combined for 40 points, but the dynamic duo also were hit with 11 fouls, keeping them off the court for long stretches.
Wade endured the whistles, getting nine of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and leading a Heat comeback attempt. O'Neal, though, didn't take any shots in the final 9 1/2 minutes before fouling out - and not hiding afterward that he wasn't happy with many of those calls against him.
``He had 17 points at halftime. He's a highly efficient player,'' Heat coach Pat Riley said. ``Foul trouble in the third quarter simply took him out of it, took him out of it in the second quarter. That's what changes the momentum of Shaquille. He came highly energized and ready to play and wanting to win and it's a shame.
``Foul trouble put him on the bench,'' Riley quickly added. ``It wasn't the lack of touches or going to him. We're running our whole offense through him. So he's got to stay on the court. We've got to find a way to keep him out there and if we keep him out there, he'll have an impact.''
O'Neal took six shots in the first 5:44, making five, including two dunks. He was on the floor another 21:05 the rest of the day, yet his point production slowed greatly after that opening barrage - which ended when he was taken out after his first foul, one where O'Neal said Bulls center Ben Wallace flopped to induce a call.
``Everybody's got their own opinion,'' Wallace said.
Even for being down one game, the Heat aren't pushing the panic button. The series resumes in Chicago on Tuesday night, with Miami needing a win to pull even and take away home-court advantage from the Bulls.
And while no one came out and said so, it's obviously a huge game for Miami. Only 11 teams in NBA history have rallied from 0-2 deficits in a best-of-seven series - the last, of course, being the Heat against Dallas in last season's finals.
``It isn't about my approach,'' O'Neal said. ``It's about being consistent, that's all. Everybody has to be consistent.''
Added Riley: ``It's just one game.''