- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2005

MIAMI — Miami Heat backup point guard Keyon Dooling celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday at the expense of the Wizards.

A fifth-year pro from Missouri, Dooling came off the bench to make six of nine shots and score 15 points in the Heat’s 105-86 victory in Game1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Dooling is turning into a playoff super-sub for the Heat. After scoring two points in Game1 of the first-round series sweep of New Jersey, Dooling scored 10, 13 and 11 points in the final three games, respectively, making 14 of 17 shots.

“[Dwyane] Wade has been looking for me, Shaq’s been looking for me, and I just step up and make the shot,” said Dooling, who is from nearby Fort Lauderdale.

“He had another really great game,” Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. “He is playing at such a high level of confidence right now. It was nice not to have [starter] Damon Jones play extended minutes.”

Dooling is 20-for-26 in his last four games.

“Everybody’s main focus is Dwyane and Shaq anyway,” Dooling said. “So there’s going to be shots and opportunities for everyone else.”

Arenas likes Shaq

Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas figured the MVP balloting would come down to eventual winner Steve Nash of Phoenix and Miami’s Shaquille O’Neal.

“You knew it was going to go down to the wire between them,” Arenas said. “You could have really just put it in a hat and pulled one of the two out. They both went to different teams and turned franchises around. I think you can argue about both of them.”

However, Arenas said if he had to build a team from scratch, the player he would start with would be O’Neal.

“You go with Shaq. You’re not going to find another Shaq,” Arenas said. “You might not be able to find a guy right now like Nash, but you can’t get close to Shaq. He’s once in a lifetime.

“You have John Stockton, and then you have Steve Nash. You have Shaq and you have … Wilt Chamberlain. You see how long [of a gap] that was. Shaq is a dominant, dominant big man. When you have Shaq, players one though 12 get better. Damon Jones is a better player now because now he gets to play to his strength. No one has ever stopped Shaq except the Spurs, and that’s when they had Tim Duncan and David Robinson playing at the top of their games.”

D. Jones plays hurt

Damon Jones has been playing with a right heel bruised badly enough he probably would be on the injured list if it were the regular season.

After scoring 10 points and dishing out four assists in 25 minutes, Jones was sporting a brace on the foot.

“It’s doing better,” he said. “I had a little restriction, but, you know, it’s playoff time. Who cares? You go out and get wins and do whatever you can to help your team win, and that’s what it’s all about.”

After their six-day layoff, the Heat were a little careless with the ball. Miami had 10 turnovers in the first half but just five in the second.

“We had to find our rhythm as far as game play is concerned,” Jones said. “We practiced pretty hard the last couple of days, but nothing can simulate game action against another team. We had a little rust, but we were able to sort through it pretty quickly and move on.”

Police blow up lights

AmericanAirlines Arena was evacuated five hours before tip-off after a suspicious package was spotted. The package held lighting equipment stolen from a TV crew and was detonated by police, Heat officials said.

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