Phil Jackson can be grateful he departed in the first half after being ejected. The rest of the Chicago Bulls had to suffer through four quarters against the Miami Heat in Miami.
With balanced scoring and 55-percent shooting, the Heat showed they may pose a threat to the Bulls in the playoffs by winning 99-72 Wednesday night.
It was Miami’s biggest winning margin and Chicago’s most lopsided loss this season.
The win was only Miami’s fifth in 18 games against Chicago since Pat Riley became Heat coach.
“I think we got into their heads a little bit,” Riley joked. “They’re the world champions, but the reality is that we’re at home, and if you play your game and play hard, you have a chance to win.”
Jackson departed with four seconds left in the first half after he became angry about a technical foul called on Dennis Rodman.
Shaquille O’Neal, clearly approaching full strength, scored a season-high 38 points, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 114-102 victory over visiting Milwaukee.
O’Neal, playing in his fourth game since being sidelined more than six weeks because of a strained abdominal muscle, went 13 of 19 from the floor and 12 of 21 from the foul line and had nine rebounds.
David Wesley knocked Kenny Anderson’s shot away, then bounced in an 18-foot jumper with 2.2 seconds to play to give the visiting Charlotte Hornets a 91-89 victory over the stunned Portland Trail Blazers.
The Blazers, who lost their second in a row at home, led 89-85 with 1:21 to play.
Hardaway grateful for surgery
Orlando Magic star Penny Hardaway says the arthroscopic surgery on his left knee last month likely saved his basketball career.
“I was really worried,” Hardaway told Houston television station KRIV. “If I had waited until the end of the season, then my career probably could have been over.”
Hardaway is undergoing rehabilitation in Houston, where he had the surgery Dec. 10 at St. Luke’s Hospital to repair a small cartilage tear.
Barkley out for a week
Houston Rockets All-Star Charles Barkley will be out about a week because of an injured middle toe on his right foot. He suffered the injury during Monday night’s game against Toronto.
The Portland Trail Blazers placed starting forward Brian Grant on the injured list because of a stress reaction in his left leg.