It’s a good thing Shaquille O’Neal didn’t let the NBA scoring tit
It’s a good thing Shaquille O’Neal didn’t let the NBA scoring title come down to the last game of the season.
The Orlando center spent 78 games making sure there wouldn’t be a repeat of last season, when he fell victim to David Robinson and the 71 points he scored against the Los Angeles Clippers in 1993-94′s final game.
Despite scoring only 13 points in the Magic’s season finale Sunday, O’Neal’s 29.3 average was enough to beat Hakeem Olajuwon and Robinson by a comfortable margin.
Olajuwon was second at 27.8 and Robinson third at 27.6.
On April 24, 1994, Robinson scored 71 points against the Clippers to deny O’Neal his first scoring title, 29.8-29.3.
This season, 71 points in the final game would have left Robinson a full point behind O’Neal.
``I’m just glad my team has confidence in me,″ O’Neal said Sunday after the Magic lost 113-99 to the New York Knicks. ``It means I’m consistent and my hard work has paid off.″
O’Neal shrugged off criticism of paying too much attention to his acting and rap careers and too little to his basketball career. Though his field goal percentage dropped from 60 percent to 58 percent, it was still second-best in the NBA and his offensive repetoire consisted of more than dunks.
His free-throw shooting, however, is another story and could prove damaging to the Magic in the playoffs. It dropped from 55 percent in 1993-94 to 53 percent this season, and his 1-for-6 from the line Sunday was a fitting conclusion.
Utah’s John Stockton and San Antonio’s Dennis Rodman continued dominating their respective fields without much competition.
Stockton won his eighth straight assists title, finishing with 1,011 in 82 games for a 12.3 average. He had over 1,000 assists for the seventh time in eight seasons and averaged almost three more assists than runner-up Kenny Anderson of the New Jersey Nets.
Rodman, who missed 33 games this season due to injury, suspension and personal leave, easily won his fourth straight rebounding crown. He had 16 rebounds in the Spurs’ final game against Minnesota and finished with 16.8 per game, down from the 17.3 he averged in 1993-94 and over four rebounds ahead of Denver’s Dikembe Mutombo.
Also repeating was Mutombo, who won his second straight blocked shots title by swatting 3.9 per game. He blocked 4.1 shots in 1993-94.
Golden State’s Chris Gatling was the league’s most accurate shooter from the field, hitting 63 percent of his shots.
Sacramento’s Spud Webb, who shot 81 percent from the free-throw line last season, hit 93 percent of his shots. Mark Price of Cleveland was second at 91 percent.
Scottie Pippen of Chicago was the steals leader with 2.94, after finishing second last season with 2.93.
Steve Kerr of Chicago and Detlef Schrempf of Seattle were separated by .001 for the league’s most accurate 3-point shooter before Sunday’s games. When Kerr shot 1-for-3 and Schrempf was 1-for-6 Sunday, Kerr won 52 percent to 51.