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I can't take credit for that clever spelling of brick. A fan at one of these recent games -- it might have been Oklahoma City but I'm at the point where this whole trip is starting to blend -- held it up as Shaq was shooting free throws.

The Big Fella missed his first seven shots Saturday against the Jazz, looking pretty bad on a couple because Greg Ostertag blocked him (actually, I think the rim blocked Shaq the second time, but Ostertag got the credit). This only increases folks' concerns that Shaq's abilities have fallen significantly, even since the end of last season.

I'm still not buying it. If he gets these same bunny hooks and one-on-one matchups two months from now and is throwing up briqs and getting blocked by Fred Flinstone, then I'll have no choice but to agree. But I think Shaq's ankle, opposing defenses and the liberties defenders are given when defending him are all factoring into his falling production -- not to mention the fact that the Heat doesn't need him as much because the team is good in so many other places.

Shaq's numbers aren't what people should be looking at with this team, at least not in the sense that his production is problematic. If anything, the fact that Shaq can look bad for a minute and the Heat can look good despite it should be an encouraging sign for Heat fans. This is why Riley put this team together, and it's starting to make sense.

Posey's on fire, Antoine is fitting in, Dwyane is being Dwyane, Gary Payton is such a savvy veteran, Jason Williams is a great complement to Dwyane and Zo is putting a road block in front of the rim. Shaq doesn't need to put up 25 and 12 when all those other things are going on.
Shaq is, after all, The Big Pacesetter. He'll pick it up when he needs to... if he even has to.




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