Jermaine O’neal had to skip practice last Wednesday because of a sore hip and thigh. It has been like that with the 31 year old veteran. He was in and out because of injuries from back spasms to a hyper extended left knee but he always finds a way to comeback. Last Feb.20 in spite of his ailing back he played 35 minutes in a double-overtime victory against Memphis and scored 18 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and 2 blockshots. But Thursday is no ordinary season game for the Heat they are facing the NBA champion Lakers and they need every ounce of strength for O’neal to hold two behemoths in Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. They are in the no.8 spot in the Eastern conference (30-31) and a loss could give the Charlotte Bobcats (28-31) a game closer to them.
The Lakers extended the game with Kobe’s fade away jump shot and just like that the Miami Heat are placed on an unfamiliar territory wherein the Lakers are 4-0 going to extra periods. Despite Kobe’s 39 points and 4 assists and Wade’s 27 points and 14 assists the game was not all about Bryant and Wade it was all decided on team defense. 19 ties and 31 lead changes that’s how close the game was and when Kobe and Wade took turns in scoring the backups take over thanks to Bynum’s greasy hands and Quentin Richardson’s three.
Jermaine O’neal was the x factor of the game. It wasn’t an offensive rebound or a perimeter shot it was O’neal’s defense taking a charge when Kobe Bryant was driving hard to the basket for a potential game tying layup. It wasn’t a coincidence that Bryant was dribbling all the way to his position it was just O’neal doing work, taking the charge for the 19th time this season.
Once again O’neal delivered with a sore hip and thigh and a bad back. Now that’s what we call dedication which brings me to one thought Jermaine O’neal is an unrestricted free agent this year if I own a team he would definitely be one of my top acquisition of course Lebron, Wade and Bosh comes first.