Slowed by an early season ankle injury, O'Neal's offensive
output has dropped eight points per game this season from his
career average of 26 points.
"We are all so quick to judge around here, but the demise of
Shaquille O'Neal has been greatly exaggerated," Heat coach Pat
Riley said. "I guarantee you that."
Dwyane Wade added 22 points and Jason Williams had 19, going
10-for-10 from the free throw line, as Miami snapped a two-game
"I'm just trying to get it back," said O'Neal, whose injury
forced him to miss 18 games. "We just need to go out and get it
done as a five-man unit."
Williams made six free throws and O'Neal had three field goals
to help Miami put away the game with a 19-9 run that opened a
108-93 lead midway through the fourth quarter.
"You all (the media) might have made him mad," Wade said of
O'Neal. "I think you all lit a fire under him. He's been playing
well the last couple of games. He continued to do it today."
Peja Stojakovic scored 19 points in the Kings' second loss in
two nights in Florida. Sacramento lost 83-78 in overtime at Orlando
"They hit us in every phase of the game," Kings coach Rick
Adelman said. "They overpowered us inside and they got us on the
open court and we didn't get back. We did all right offensively for
a while, but as soon as we turned it over and missed shots, they
were outrunning us."
After trailing the entire first half, Sacramento took its first
lead 63-62 on Stojakovic's 3-pointer 46 seconds into the second
half. Stojakovic hit another 3-pointer with 5:01 remaining in the
third period, increasing the Kings' lead to 77-72.
But the Heat retook the lead for good on a 7-0 spurt to end the
quarter as Williams scored on two driving layups and Antoine Walker
hit a 3-pointer. Sacramento's four turnovers in the period helped
Miami break open the game.
"When you're on the road, you can't turn ball over, especially
against a team like Miami," Stojakovic said. "They're going to
take advantage of that and they did."
O'Neal and Udonis Haslem scored 24 of the Heat's first 27 points
of the game, each scoring 12 and helping Miami to a 37-24 lead in
the first quarter.
The Kings cut Miami's advantage to 53-49 as Shareef Abdur-Rahim
hit two free throws with 3:27 remaining in the second quarter.
Francisco Garcia keyed Sacramento's comeback, scoring 10 points in
the period, including two 3-pointers.
"We got out to a fast start, but there was a little dead spot
there," O'Neal said. "Tonight we let them get back too close, but
the third and fourth quarter guys played well and buckled down on
defense and got it done as a five-man unit."
Miami's 24-17 record at the season's midway point is five games
off last season's pace.
"We are winning, but not at the rate that I think we should,"
Riley said. "I don't think people are satisfied with it. I know
Stojakovic played in his 518th career game with the Kings,
moving him past Mitch Richmond and into eighth place on the
franchise's all-time list. ... The Heat's 16 field goals and 13
assists in the first period were both season highs for a quarter.
... A number of sports stars attended the game. New York Yankees
third baseman Alex Rodriguez, tennis' Andre Agassi and his wife,
Steffi Graf, former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield,
Philadelphia Eagles receiver Terrell Owens and New York Giants
tight end Jeremy Shockey all sat at courtside.