A Royal Beating

Before Coach Pat Riley regained the reigns of the Miami Heat earlier this season, the Shaq-less team had been caught in an underachieving rut. One month and a healthy Shaquille later, the Heat still seem like they’re just spinning their tires. But the sky isn’t exactly falling yet, as Miami remains comfortably ahead in a dismal Southeastern Conference. However, finding consistency is going to be important if this team wants to survive deep into the playoffs. You can’t blame Dwyane Wade, who has Sir Isaac Newton rolling in his grave as he continues to defy the laws of gravity on a nightly basis. Nor can you fault O’Neill, who has been getting double-teamed more than Jenna Jameson, and has carried defenders on his back so frequently he should start serving beverages and charging for the ride. But role players are going to need to step up when the Sacramento Kings come to town for the second game of a four-game home stretch. Earlier this season, a Shaq-less Heat beat the Kings in Sacramento, but just because the Big Fella’ is back in the paint doesn’t mean the Kings will bow out without a fight. Sacramento has been somewhat disappointing this year, but sharp shooting Peja Stojakovic and Mike Bibby are always dangerous, and will pose matchup problems on the perimeter.
Sun., Jan. 22, 6 p.m.
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Paul A. Leone