O'Neal's All Business After Tipoff

Wednesday, February 21st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Shaquille O'Neal joked with Don Nelson in some pregame frivolity. After tipoff, there was no clowning around.

O'Neal donned a red foam nose as part of a plan devised by Nelson to defuse the tension surrounding his return as Dallas coach after prostate cancer surgery. Nelson originally wore the nose after O'Neal called Nelson a ``clown'' for constantly fouling the All-Star center.

But the joke was on the Mavericks. O'Neal spoiled Nelson's return and destroyed Dallas' Hack-a-Shaq scheme by shooting 11-for-15 from the line en route to 29 points as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Mavericks 119-109 Tuesday night.

``When Shaq makes his free throws like that, then the Hack-a-Shaq goes right out the window,'' said Nelson, who missed 21 games and 52 days.

In other NBA games, Toronto beat Golden State 113-102; Vancouver defeated Washington 116-104; Phoenix topped Orlando 110-104; New York stopped Miami 76-74; Houston beat Boston 101-84; Milwaukee toppled Chicago 101-92; Portland stopped Denver 104-94; Sacramento defeated Atlanta 94-80.

Nelson received a warm ovation during Tuesday's pregame introductions, then lightened the mood by putting on the toy nose. Then, O'Neal took it off Nelson and put it on himself to show that he didn't hold a grudge.

In the teams' last meeting, Dallas sent O'Neal to the line 20 times. That angered O'Neal enough to elicit the clown line.

``I knew he wouldn't forget my comments,'' said O'Neal, who was presented one of the noses. ``The reality of the situation is that I'm glad he's back from his cancer.''

Kobe Bryant finished with 19 points, but injured his right ankle in a collision with O'Neal in the final minutes as the Lakers beat the Mavericks for the 22nd time in 23 games. Rick Fox tied his season high with 22 points, and Isaiah Rider had 20.

Steve Nash scored a career-high 31 points and had seven assists as the Mavericks had their five-game winning streak snapped.

Kings 94, Hawks 80

Jason Williams had 22 points and seven assists as host Sacramento ended a 10-game losing streak against Atlanta.

The Kings last beat the Hawks on Nov. 12, 1994.

Peja Stojakovic scored 19 points for Sacramento, which won for the third time in eight games. Vlade Divac had 13 points and 19 rebounds, and Scot Pollard added 10 points and 11 rebounds.

Jason Terry led the Hawks with 16 points. Lorenzen Wright had 15 points and 13 rebounds and Dikembe Mutombo added 11 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocks.

Trail Blazers 104, Nuggets 94

Rasheed Wallace scored a career-high 42 points as Portland dealt Denver its ninth loss in 11 games.

Detlef Schrempf and Bonzi Wells each scored 13 points for the Trail Blazers.

Antonio McDyess scored 30 for the visiting Nuggets. Voshon Lenard added 14 points.

Suns 110, Magic 104

Shawn Marion scored 28 points as Phoenix snapped Orlando's nine-game winning streak.

Jason Kidd added 15 points and 15 assists for the visiting Suns, who have beaten the Magic six straight times. Tony Delk scored 22 points.

Tracy McGrady had a career-high 44 points for the Magic.

Knicks 76, Heat 74

Latrell Sprewell scored 17 points and Larry Johnson added 14 as host New York prevailed in a typical Heat-Knicks matchup dominated by defense.

Marcus Camby had 13 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks, who moved back into second place in the Atlantic Division, just a few percentage points ahead of the Heat.

Anthony Mason had 17 points for Miami, which squandered two chances to win the game when Tim Hardaway threw up an airball and an off-target 3-pointer on Miami's final two possessions.

Rockets 101, Celtics 84

Maurice Taylor scored 23 points and Steve Francis had 19 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Houston.

Cuttino Mobley had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Hakeem Olajuwon added 13 points as the Rockets won for the sixth time in seven games.

Paul Pierce scored 31 points and Antoine Walker 19 as the Celtics lost their fourth straight in Houston.

Bucks 101, Bulls 92

Ray Allen scored 17 of his 34 points in the fourth quarter as Milwaukee rallied to win at Chicago.

The game was marred by an ugly scuffle between Milwaukee's Glenn Robinson and Bulls forward Ron Artest in the third quarter. Both players were ejected, and Artest also received a flagrant foul.

Sam Cassell added 20 points for the Bucks. Jason Caffey had 14 points and 11 rebounds against his former team.

Elton Brand's 22 points and career-high 21 rebounds led four Bulls in double figures.

Raptors 113, Warriors 102

In Toronto, Vince Carter scored 33 points and Mark Jackson moved past Isiah Thomas into fourth place on the NBA career assist list.

Jackson had 12 assists, raising his career total to 9,065.

John Stockton is the NBA's career assist leader with 14,255. Magic Johnson is second at 10,141, and Oscar Robertson is third with 9,887.

Antawn Jamison had 31 points for the Warriors, who have lost five straight and 10 of 11.

Golden State's Mookie Blaylock had four steals, raising his career total to 2001. Only seven other players have 2000 steals in NBA history.

Grizzlies 116, Wizards 104

Michael Dickerson scored nine of his 23 points during a decisive third-quarter run as visiting Vancouver extended its franchise-record winning streak to five games and won its third straight road game.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf and Shareef Abdur-Rahim each scored 19 points for the Grizzlies.

Juwan Howard led Washington with 27 points. Chris Whitney hit a season-high six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points.