National Basketball Association star Shaquille O'Neal scored 36 points Sunday in Los Angeles Lakers' 84-83 win over the Toronto Raptors, then went on a profanity-punctuated tirade to complain about the game's officiating.
O'Neal, who made 13 of 20 shots from the field and 10 of 15 free throws, told a live television audience he was frustrated by what he said were unfair calls by the referees. He accused one of the refs by name of making bad calls against him. The comments by the Lakers' muscular, 218 cm.-tall center could prompt the NBA to fine him.
Despite O'Neal's complaints, a non-call by the referees on the final play of the game favored the Lakers and may have prevented a last-second victory at home for Toronto. The Raptors' Vince Carter, driving toward the basket, thought he was fouled by the Lakers' Gary Payton and expected two free throws, but there was no whistle.
A three-point shot by Carter just a few seconds earlier had narrowed the Lakers' margin to one point, but the Lakers grabbed after Carter's weak shot and dribbled away the final seconds. Carter scored 27 points and had 10 rebounds.
In Minnesota, the Timberwolves erased an 18-point first half deficit to beat the Philadelphia 76ers, 106-101. Minnesota's big man Kevin Garnett had 32 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists, and Sam Cassell added 29 points. Garnett and Cassell combined for all 17 of the T-Wolves' points over the game's last five minutes. Philly star Allan Iverson scored 28 points.
In the NBA's only other game Sunday, Cleveland's superstar rookie LeBron James scored 38 points - his career best since joining the pros out of high school - and his Cavaliers beat the Wizards in Washington, 104-100.