CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- The Miami Heat gave Shaquille O'Neal the
only birthday gift he wanted: the ball when the game was on the
O'Neal marked his 34th birthday with 35 points and accounted for
all of Miami's scoring in overtime, leading the Heat over the
Charlotte Bobcats 106-105 on Monday night.
"In overtime, I told the guys, `Just bring it to me," O'Neal
said. "We were messing around the whole game, so I just told the
guys to keep coming to me. And they did."
O'Neal also had 12 rebounds to help the Heat to a season-high
ninth consecutive victory. Although he missed several opportunities
to put Miami on top in regulation -- he went 2-for-7 at the free
throw line in the fourth quarter -- he made amends in the extra
He scored on all four of his attempts -- three were dunks -- and
had three rebounds to finally put the Bobcats away and close out
his birthday with a victory. Asked how he planned to celebrate,
O'Neal said he had a low-key evening ahead of him.
"I'm going to just go home, be thankful for my beautiful wife
and gorgeous kids, where I live, my job," he said. "Actually,
every day is my birthday."
Miami played without leading scorer Dwyane Wade, who sat out
with a sprained right wrist. The Heat missed him early, when O'Neal
got off to a slow start and the Bobcats built an early 15-point
But Miami was able to hang around and made a run at Charlotte in
the fourth quarter.
Jason Williams made three 3s in the final period, including one
with 45 seconds to play to tie it at 98. But both teams missed
opportunities to win it in regulation. Antoine Walker missed a
jumper for Miami, and Primoz Brezec twice missed for Charlotte,
including a shot at the final buzzer that didn't even hit the rim.
It was a sign of things to come for Brezec, who was dominated by
O'Neal in overtime. O'Neal schooled Brezec on three consecutive
baskets, and his dunk with 1:20 to play tied it at 104 and sent
Brezec to the bench for good.
Brezec angrily tossed an elbow pad at the chairs as he stomped
to his seat.
"No. 7 (Brezec) lost that game tonight, and I take the blame
for that," Brezec said.
O'Neal, who scored eight points in overtime, added a layup with
42 seconds left that gave Miami a 106-104 lead -- its first time on
top since 2-0.
"He's had some pretty ... good games," Miami coach Pat Riley
said. "He's playing extremely well, we're winning and he's
The Bobcats were not surprised to see O'Neal take over.
"He is their superstar, he is their go-to man," Gerald Wallace
said. "When they needed a win, they went to him. He pulled it out
for them and did what he had to do to get this team a win."
Raymond Felton was fouled by Williams as he drove toward the
basket, but he missed the first of two free throws to prevent the
Bobcats from tying it.
Although the Heat missed at the other end, Miami got the
offensive rebound and successfully played keep away by tossing the
ball around the key until the final buzzer.
Williams finished with 24 points for Miami and Udonis Haslem and
Walker each had 16. Haslem also had 13 rebounds.
Wallace led Charlotte with 25 points, 15 rebounds and six
steals. Brevin Knight added 24 points and 11 assists, Felton had 19
points and Brezec finished with 10.
Besides Wade, the Heat were also without center Earl Barron
and forward Dorrell Wright. ... Charlotte sent guard Bernard
Robinson home with a stomach virus. ... Bobcats coach Bernie
Bickerstaff plans to talk with trainers Tuesday about forward Emeka
Okafor's status. Okafor has missed 35 games with a sprained ankle.
... Bickerstaff is unsure if forward Sean May, who had knee surgery
in January, will play again this year. "He's chomping at the bit.
Right now, he can shoot." ... Charlotte city leaders, still
glowing from the Monday announcement that NASCAR will build its
Hall of Fame here, sat courtside for most of the game.