O'Neal and many Miami Heat teammates were headed to South Beach for a bash Friday night, after getting double-digit scoring from all five starters and beating the slumping Sacramento Kings 104-83.
Dwyane Wade had 22 points, seven rebounds and seven assists.
O'Neal scored 18 points, giving him 23,177 for his career and tying
him with Adrian Dantley for 17th in NBA history. And Eddie Jones
had 17 -- including a 5-for-5 night from 3-point range -- for Miami,
which won its fourth straight overall and ninth in a row at home.
"I think we played pretty good defense overall," said O'Neal,
who actually turns 33 on Sunday. "We took care of the ball. We got
a lot of guys involved. ... If we play like that, we should be on
our way. We just need to do what we're supposed to do and maintain
that toughness at home."
O'Neal, from the bench, even joined in the sellout crowd's chant
of "We want Zo!" And they got their wish: Alonzo Mourning made
his formal homecoming, scoring four points and adding four rebounds
in the final 3:37.
"It was a good feeling," said Mourning, who wore a home Heat
uniform for the first time since the end of the 2001-02 season
after rejoining the club this week. "I was just a little stiff,
getting out there. I'm no spring chicken anymore."
Mike Bibby had 22 points and seven assists for Sacramento, which
capped a six-game road trip by losing for the 10th time in its last
14 games. Cuttino Mobley had 17 points and Peja Stojakovic added 15
for the Kings.
Another big second-half effort keyed the win. Miami, which
outscored New Jersey 62-42 in a 16-point win Thursday night, shot
56.4 percent in the second half and outscored the Kings 56-42 after
"We didn't get any stops," Bibby said. "They were scoring. We
With starting center Brad Miller sidelined for the third
straight game because of a sore calf, the Kings relied heavily on
jump shots -- 10 of Sacramento's first 11 field goals came from the
"That's who we are. We're a jump-shooting team," said Kings
coach Rick Adelman. "We don't have a low-post game. I don't think
we have anybody like Shaq I can think of, right offhand."
But the Kings only connected on 40.5 percent of their first-half
shots, and that, combined with Miami's 24-8 inside-scoring edge in
the opening two quarters, led to a 48-41 Heat lead at intermission.
"They looked like a team that was at the end of a long, long
road trip," said Heat coach Stan Van Gundy.
And down the stretch, Miami happily took advantage of the
Sacramento hit its first three shots of the third quarter and
closed with 48-47, but never regained the lead. Miami connected on
63.2 percent of its shots in the period, built a 78-66 lead
entering the fourth and pulled away -- improving to 36-2 when
leading after three quarters.
The Kings, who were away from home for the ninth time in 10
games, never got closer than 12 in the final quarter.
"We've got to get home and regroup," said Adelman, whose team
will face Detroit at home Sunday. "We've got the world champs in
36 hours. We appreciate the league doing that for us."
The Heat got a brief scare with 54.4 seconds left in the first
half, when Kings center Brian Skinner pulled O'Neal down under the
basket. O'Neal -- who sprained his left knee 10 days earlier after
another awkward tumble -- fell over cameramen and fans, but was
uninjured and made one of the two resulting free throws.
Miami was not called for a foul in the first quarter,
marking the fifth foul-free quarter in franchise history and the
first since Dec. 23, 2003, against Washington. ... Stojakovic, in
his second game since coming back from an injured hamstring, made
his first three shots, then missed six of his next seven --
including two airballs. ... O'Neal was asked what teammates should
get him for birthday gifts. "Nothing. I have it all," he said.
... Sacramento is 2-4 since trading Chris Webber to Philadelphia.
... Celebrities at the game included actress Tara Reid and Indy
Racing League driver Helio Castroneves, who'll race at
Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.