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O'Neal takes charge as Heat stop Lakers

Associated Press / March 5, 2010

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Jermaine O’Neal called it, telling teammates in overtime that the next time someone drove the lane he would be there to take the charge.

That someone was Kobe Bryant.

And O’Neal delivered on his vow.

O’Neal stood his ground with 18.7 seconds left in the extra session and Bryant was whistled for an offensive foul. It was the final turning point as the host Heat found a way to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 114-111, last night in the NBA’s wildest back-and-forth game this season.

There were 19 ties and 31 lead changes, two more than any game in the league in 2009-10, and Miami’s center stood tallest at the end.

“He was there. He stepped up,’’ said Dwyane Wade, who led the Heat with 27 points and 14 assists. “I saw it coming the whole way. That’s J.O. - J.O. not only protects the basket by being a shot blocker, but he also protects it because he can take charges. And that’s great. Everybody did their job tonight.’’

Bryant went left, looking for a layup that would have tied the game. Instead, O’Neal drew his team-best 19th charge of the season, Carlos Arroyo hit two free throws 0.3 seconds later to make it a two-possession game and Miami held on, winning back-to-back home games for the first time since mid-January.

Quentin Richardson scored a season-high 25 points for the Heat, who got 17 from Arroyo, 13 from O’Neal and a 12-point, 11-rebound effort from Udonis Haslem.

“We have big-moment, big-player type guys that love to step up to a big challenge like this and aren’t afraid of the moment,’’ Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Obviously, Dwyane is like that, Jermaine is like that. Udonis, Quentin will hit big shots. A lot of times it’s a fight and an argument to see who’s going to shoot the ball. They’re not running from it. They want the moment.’’

Bryant scored 39 points, including the overtime-forcing jumper for the Lakers, who got 14 points from Derek Fisher and 13 points and 11 rebounds from Lamar Odom.

Jazz 116, Suns 108 - Deron Williams scored 13 of his 27 points during a 41-point fourth quarter, Mehmet Okur added 24 points, and Utah rallied from a 12-point final period deficit to beat host Phoenix.

The Jazz trailed, 98-86, early in the fourth quarter, then reeled off 12 straight points, capped by a 3-pointer by Okur to tie the game.

They took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Williams with 1:36 remaining that made it 109-106.

Carlos Boozer had 15 points and 15 rebounds for Utah.

Amar’e Stoudemire scored 30 points for the second consecutive game for Phoenix.

Grizzlies 105, Bulls 96 - Zach Randolph scored 31 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, and visiting Memphis rallied from a big first-half deficit to beat Chicago.

After trailing by 17 in the second quarter, the Grizzlies tied it in the third and finally took control with an 8-0 run late in the fourth that gave them a 97-90 lead.

O.J. Mayo scored 10 of his 20 points in the final quarter. Rudy Gay finished with 17 points as the Grizzlies extended their franchise-record road win streak to six and sent Chicago to its third straight loss.

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