From the Cleveland point of view

Not the center of attention

Shaquille O'Neal is shooting less, but enjoying it just fine, thank you

By Marty Schmitt Boyer
Cleveland Plain Dealer / May 8, 2010

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A playful Shaquille O'Neal was humming while getting dressed after the Cavaliers pounded the Boston Celtics on Friday night.

Unfortunately, the tune he's humming is the song from the Dockers commercial: "I wear no pants."

He is wearing a very, very long purple shirt and a striped purple tie, but what is most noticeable is the big grin after putting up 12 points and nine rebounds in the Cavs blowout. He made five of seven shots and both his free throws.

That was his best showing in this series, after 11 points and four rebounds in Game 1 and nine and four in Game 2. Then again, it was the Cavs' best showing, too.

"We realized that we didn't do what we usually do in Game 2 at our place and that's do a real good defensive job," said O'Neal, who was, in fact, now wearing pants. "Tonight we came out poised, we played together, the ball was moving and we just did what we had to do. This game is over. We've got another game in 28 hours or whatever. We've just got to be ready for that."

After missing six weeks with a torn ligament in his right thumb, it has taken O'Neal some time to get back into the flow of things. He did shoot 51.4 percent (19 of 37) in the five games against Chicago, but that dropped off to 36.4 percent (8 of 22) in the first two games against the Celtics.

But perhaps the biggest change has been that he is averaging only about 20 minutes per game in the postseason. He played 22:45 on Friday night. That has taken some getting used to.

"I'm used to getting the ball every play," he said. "Now that I take five to 10 shots a game, I just try to take the high percentage shots.

"I've always been a systematic player, a systematic person, so I just go with the system. I realize I haven't played in a lot of fourth quarters, but it's working so far, so we just keep going with it."

Antawn Jamison said his teammates realized O'Neal was having a tough go of it, so they wanted to help him on Friday.

"The first couple games, we were getting him the ball and leaving him out on an island," Jamison said. "Nobody was cutting. They were loading up on him. I think tonight we were able to create some easy opportunities for him and get him going a little bit. When he did get the ball in the paint, he was able to slash and keep them from loading up on him and making it difficult for him.

"I know he was frustrated with the way things had been going offensively the last two games. He made a concerted effort to come out and play better, and we wanted to make it a little bit easier for him as far as not having to work too hard and work so far away from the basket. When he was able to do that, he converted."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4668

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