MIAMI — Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon seem as if they’ll enjoy this Miami Heat playoff chase.
Dwyane Wade had 25 points and nine assists, O’Neal and Moon combined to score 10 fourth-quarter points in their second game since arriving from Toronto, and the Heat improved their Eastern Conference postseason positioning by beating the Philadelphia 76ers 97-91 on Saturday.
Miami was down by three with 2:52 remaining, then went on an 8-0 run when the game mattered most.
“Probably the most important game of the season so far,” said Heat forward Udonis Haslem, who finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, including a key jumper with 1:33 remaining. “We felt like this was a must-win situation for us.”
O’Neal had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Moon scored 12 for Miami. They were in perfect tune with Wade in the final minutes, with Moon getting free to score off a pair of baseline lobs and O’Neal scoring twice in a span of four possessions midway through the fourth quarter to take some pressure off the NBA’s second-leading scorer.
“I felt so much more comfortable tonight than I felt the previous night,” O’Neal said. “I’ve been working hard and we feel like we have a chance to keep building from here.”
Moon airballed his first shot, saying he was too excited. By the end, he and Wade seemed like they were playing together forever, subtle nods of the head from one telling the other where they were heading.
“More to come,” Moon said.
Andre Miller had 30 points — the most by a 76ers player since late last season — and nine rebounds, and Louis Williams scored 22 off the bench for Philadelphia, which is on its first three-game slide since December.
Andre Iguodala scored 14 and Marreese Speights added 12 for Philadelphia, which was the lone NBA team not to have a 30-point individual scorer this season.
But Miller took care of that, going 11-for-21 from the field and 8-for-8 from the line. Despite a strained right calf, Miller started to extend the NBA’s longest current streak of games played to 502. He’s missed only three games in his 10-year career, the last coming Jan. 24, 2003.
“For a guy who was questionable coming in tonight, he was fantastic,” 76ers coach Tony DiLeo said.
Miami trailed 87-84 after Miller hit a pair of free throws, but rallied with eight straight points and never trailed again.