The Los Angeles Lakers were thrilled to have Shaquille O'Neal back. The Toronto Raptors don't seem to miss Vince Carter very much at all.
Showing no signs of the wrist injury that sidelined him for two games, O'Neal scored 40 points Sunday to lead the Lakers to a 96-88 victory over the fading Miami Heat.
The Lakers lost both games while O'Neal was out, scoring 81 points and shooting 34 percent Friday against Boston, both season lows.
"You don't want to say that we're a mediocre team without him," Lakers forward Rick Fox said. "But that's really what we are."
The Raptors, on a remarkable roll since losing Carter to a season-ending knee injury, got 26 points from Alvin Williams and 21 from Antonio Davis to move into playoff position with a 94-84 victory over the Indiana Pacers.
Toronto set a franchise record with its eighth straight win after losing 17 of 18, pulling a game ahead of Indiana in the race for the final postseason berth in the Eastern Conference.
"This is amazing," said Davis, who also grabbed 10 rebounds. "We've come such a long way in such a short period of time. This is such a great feeling because it would have been easy to give up."
In other games, it was Philadelphia 89, Milwaukee 87; Boston 102, New Jersey 90; Sacramento 116, New York 82; and the Los Angeles Clippers 97, Denver 75.
Keon Clark had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Raptors, who have beaten Indiana seven times in a row dating to last season.
Toronto clinched the season series with the Pacers, so if the teams are tied at the end of the regular season, the Raptors win the tiebreaker.
Toronto is yet to lose since Carter's season ended with arthroscopic knee surgery March 26.
"These guys are believing in each other, and that makes the biggest difference in the world," Davis said. "It's not just one guy, everybody is doing it."
O'Neal made 14 of 22 shots, grabbed 11 rebounds in 41 minutes and reached 40 points for the sixth time this season.
Miami lost for the eighth time in 10 games and moved closer to elimination from the playoff race. The Heat are 11th in the Eastern Conference, five games out of a postseason spot with six left.
The only good news for Miami was that Pat Riley said he'll return as coach and president next season, despite the first losing season of his 20-year career.
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