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Inside the NBA

Three Points

January 14, 2007|PAUL NETTER

POST-TITLE REGRESSION

The sidelined Shaquille O'Neal is many things, but he is not the Miami Heat's worst free-throw shooter this season.

That distinction belongs to Antoine Walker, who is making 38% (19 of 50) to O'Neal's 44.4% (eight of 18).

Walker, a once solid three-point shooter averaging career lows in points (8.2) and rebounds (4.0), is making only 25.4% of his attempts from beyond the arc compared with 32.6% for his career.

SLIPPAGE IN SAN ANTONIO

San Antonio's Gregg Popovich might simply be fretting like a coach, but he seems at least partially justified in his concern about the Spurs' defense.

In each of Tim Duncan's first nine seasons, the Spurs' field-goal percentage defense ranked among the top five in the NBA; in all but two of those years it was no lower than third.

This season, the Spurs are 12th with their opponents shooting 45.1%. Perhaps of greater concern to Popovich is that San Antonio is allowing 45.8% shooting at home.

"We don't seem to have the same passion for it, and it doesn't seem to hold the same sense of urgency," said Popovich, who can still take solace in his team being second in points given up at 90.3 a game while scoring more at 99.2.

GOOD, BAD AND UGLY

The New York Knicks are 7-5 since the Dec. 16 brawl at Madison Square Garden with the Denver Nuggets that led to 10 ejections and seven suspensions.

The Nuggets, whose leading scorer Carmelo Anthony is still on a 15-game suspension, are 4-8.

-- PAUL NETTER

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