Suns, O'Neal top Wizards, 103-87

Shaquille O'Neal kissed Caron Butler on the head, got a technical for hanging on the rim and thumped Andray Blatche into a knee-buckling injury.

He also scored 29 points, grabbed eight rebounds and blocked three shots.


Of course, a 36-year-old center playing back-to-back games at the end of a long road trip isn't much of a problem when the opponent is the new worst team in basketball.

O'Neal and the Phoenix Suns wrapped up a six-game East Coast swing last night with a 103-87 win over the Washington Wizards, who suffered the indignity of falling behind the Oklahoma City Thunder to take sole possession of the NBA cellar.


"This is a game of men, and we backed down tonight," Wizards co-captain Antawn Jamison said. "We didn't take the challenge that we preached before the game. Shaq senses that he's going to take advantage of that, and he sensed that tonight."

O'Neal finished 10-for-14 from the field and 9-for-10 from the free-throw line for the Suns, who salvaged their trip by winning the final two games to finish 3-3. O'Neal had 19 points and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes in Sunday night's 104-99 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

"I feel like I can play three or four more years," O'Neal said. "I've got a new medical staff that does stuff that I haven't really had before."

Amare Stoudemire added 22 points and 15 rebounds for the Suns, whose 53-38 rebounding advantage helped overcome their 17 turnovers.

Caron Butler scored 28 points, and Jamison had 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Wizards, but they didn't get much help as Washington lost for the 10th time in 12 games.

O'Neal literally threw his weight around in the game's final minutes. He pushed Blatche to the court along the baseline with 4:11 to play and was called for a foul, while Blatche lay on the floor with a left knee injury and had to leave the game. With 1:53 left, O'Neal threw down a defiant one-handed dunk that gave the Suns a 12-point lead.

Blatche said his knee "buckled and came back in place" and that X-rays were negative.

Hornets 101, 76ers 86:: Chris Paul had 27 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and seven steals for his fifth triple double of the season, and New Orleans defeated visiting Philadelphia.


Timberwolves 90, Bucks 83:: Al Jefferson scored 23 points and had 10 rebounds and Ryan Gomes added 22 points, lifting visiting Minnesota over short-handed Milwaukee.

It was the Bucks' first game since Michael Redd's season-ending knee injury.

Heat 95, Hawks 79: : Dwyane Wade finished with 35 points and host Miami won after holding Atlanta without a field goal for nearly 13 1/2 minutes during the first half.

The Hawks set a franchise-futility record with their 27-point first half.

Knicks 104, Rockets 98: : Wilson Chandler responded to being taken out of the starting lineup with 18 points, and host New York beat Houston.

Thunder 94, Nets 85: : Kevin Durant scored nine of his 18 points in the third quarter, when host Oklahoma City outscored New Jersey 31-14 on the way to victory.


Off the court

Knicks: : The team assured center Eddy Curry "to take the time that he needs" as he copes with the death of his former girlfriend and mother of his 3-year-old son, team president Donnie Walsh said.

A relative found the bodies of Nova Henry, 24, and her 9-month-old daughter, Ava, in their Chicago apartment Saturday evening, according to police. Both died from multiple gunshot wounds.

Curry's son was found unharmed at the scene.