MIAMI -- The Miami Heat and hurricane relief charities came
away winners Monday night.
Miami opened the preseason by beating the NBA champion San
Antonio Spurs 103-101 in a game added to the schedule to benefit
victims of Hurricane Katrina. A check for $1.1 million was
presented at halftime to the American Red Cross, Habitat for
Humanity, the Salvation Army and Feed the Poor.
"It's great to be able to do something for people," Heat coach
Stan Van Gundy said.
The game drew a capacity crowd of 19,600, with many tickets
donated, and the teams gave fans what they came to see: dunks by
Shaquille O'Neal, breakneck drives by Dwyane Wade and plenty of
firepower from the Spurs.
Following a timeout with 2.4 seconds left, Heat rookie
Kevin Braswell hit a layup for the winning score.
"On the bench Shaq said, 'The ball's coming to you,'" Braswell
said. "With all the people in the stands, it felt great."
As officials reviewed a TV replay to make sure Braswell beat the
buzzer, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich urged them to let the basket
"It was a great night," Popovich said. "It was a win-win for
everybody. It was really great for the people who were so
unfortunate during the hurricane."
While San Antonio's lineup was unchanged from the end of last
season, the game marked the debut of a revamped lineup by the Heat,
who acquired three new starters after losing in the Eastern
Conference finals last season.
"The champions, and those who would be champions," said one
spectator, Hall of Famer Julius Erving.
Wade's daredevil acrobatics, Tim Duncan's shooting touch and
Alonzo Mourning's scowl were all in midseason form. Perhaps the
biggest surprise: O'Neal made his first three free throws, one a
Despite only a week of practice and a steady stream of
substitutions, both teams showed considerable offensive flair and
shot better than 50 percent.
Duncan scored 16 points, all in the first half, and added 10
rebounds in 24 minutes. Manu Ginobili had 13 points in 16 minutes.
"It felt like yesterday we were playing in the Finals,"
Ginobili said. "I didn't think it was so long ago. We had all the
plays fresh in our minds."
Michael Finley, who spurned the Heat for the Spurs this
offseason, made three of four shots.
Wade took several hard spills to earn his 18 points. He sank a
40-foot runner that banked in as the buzzer sounded to end the
O'Neal had 17 points and eight rebounds in 22 minutes. New
teammate Antoine Walker drove almost the entire length of the court
for one layup and finished with 20 points and five steals.
"It's going to take some time to get used to each other,"
O'Neal said. "But I liked what I saw out there with the guys'
intensity and moving the ball and playing together. That's what it
takes to get it done."