Shaquille O'Neal had one regret about moving into elite NBA scoring air. It should have happened long ago.
O’Neal became the fifth player to score 28,000 career points, and he made his enormous presence known at both ends of the floor as the Cleveland Cavaliers began a long stretch of home games with a 108-100 victory over the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.
O’Neal reached the major milestone with a layup in the first minute. He was proud of the achievement, but felt it was overdue.
“I’ve missed like 5,000 free throws,” O’Neal said. “If I had at least hit half of those, then I would be at 30,000 right now.”
LeBron James scored 28 points and Mo Williams added 22 as the Cavs, who just returned from a long road trip, improved to 15-3 at Quicken Loans Arena. They play 10 of their next 12 at home before Feb. 19.
James had 11 assists and nine rebounds, missing out on No. 10 and a triple-double when he let a rebound slip out of his hands in the final minute.
O’Neal added 16 points, assisted on two big baskets down the stretch and set the tone for Cleveland’s defense in the second half by knocking down Toronto guards Demar DeRozan and Jarrett Jack with hard fouls.
Celtics star Kevin Garnett, who has missed the past nine games with a hyperextended right knee, returned to practice and said he hopes to return Friday against Portland. ... Guard Stephon Marbury, a two-time All-Star, reached an agreement to play for the Shanxi Zhongyu Brave Dragons, a professional team in China. Former Sonic Olumide Oyedeji also plays for Shanxi. ... The NBA denied Atlanta’s protest over a shot-clock error in the 106-101 loss at Cleveland on Dec. 30. ... Sacramento rookie Tyreke Evans is being sued over a 2007 fatal shooting committed by a cousin in his vehicle near Philadelphia.