Saturday , Dec , 08 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Shaquille O’Neal Finally Responds To Criticism, But Pat Riley & Miami Heat Not Listening

With O’Neal sitting for the entire fourth quarter, the Heat squandered a double-digit lead and ended up losing by seven. With the defeat, Miami’s record dropped to an Eastern Conference worst 4-15. The lesson from last night is simple. Shaq can still talk trash. But is anybody, including his own team, listening?

 You knew he would respond. It was just a matter of when.

Yesterday, before his team played Golden State, Miami center Shaquille O’Neal blasted his teammates and coaches for not getting him the ball on a regular basis.

‘If I’m taking 20 shots a game, and I’m only making two, then you can say my production is going down,” O’Neal said. ”But I’m still shooting 60 or 65 percent from the field. So they’ve got to find better ways to get me the ball. It should be simple.”

”I’m not a yeller — we already have enough yellers on this team,” O’Neal said. ”I don’t want to sound like everybody else. I just try to keep a positive attitude with the guys. But it’s enough talking. We have to do.” (Miami Herald)

Does Shaq have a point? Should he be more of a priority on offense?

Well, maybe.

O’Neal remains a league leader in field goal percentage, connecting on 60 percent of shot attempts. And when teammates feed him the rock, he sometimes produces big numbers. For example, against Houston in mid-November, he chipped-in with an impressive 24 points and 14 rebounds.

The big center believes he can facilitate for others, too. O’Neal claims he can still draw double-teams and create open looks for teammates.

Of course, there is another side to the story.

Critics blame Shaq for his declining production. They feel his poor conditioning gets him out of position on defense and into foul trouble. And they want him on the offensive glass for put-backs.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle. However, O’Neal must be frustrated after last night’s game against the Golden State Warriors.

Coach Riley decided to go small, leaving his center on the bench for extended periods-even though he produced 13 points, 10 rebounds, and 2 steals in just 21 minutes.

With O’Neal sitting for the entire fourth quarter, the Heat squandered a double-digit lead and ended up losing by seven. With the defeat, Miami’s record dropped to an Eastern Conference worst 4-15.

The lesson from last night is simple. Shaq can still talk trash. But is anybody, including his own team, listening?

Should Miami make Shaq a priority on offense? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.

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