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Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2009

Shaq, LeBron lead Cavs past Olympiakos

CLEVELAND (AP) Even at 37, Superman can still fly.

News photo
Front row seats: Cleveland's Shaquille O'Neal and LeBron James watch from the sidelines during the Cavaliers' 111-94 win over Greece's Olympiakos in preseason action on Sunday. AP PHOTO

In his second preseason game at home, Shaquille O'Neal introduced himself to Cleveland's fans with a dive into the stands during the Cavaliers' 111-94 preseason win against Olympiakos.

O'Neal and LeBron James each scored 12 points in limited time, but it was O'Neal's launch into the seats that sent fans scrambling for safety. The 150-kg O'Neal angled himself so that he landed on an empty chair.

"That chair ain't going to hurt him," James said. "I feel bad for the chair."

Shaq soared into the seats after he was shoved in the back on a fast break in the first half. He brushed himself off and promptly missed both free throws, but was in position to grab the rebound. He tried another slam, but the ball smacked the iron and sailed toward half court.

O'Neal never made it back on defense, but a quick Olympiakos turnover allowed Anthony Parker to hit a wide open O'Neal, who used two hands for the dunk before finishing with a twist on the rim as the crowd inside Quicken Loans Arena roared.

"I just try to land safely," O'Neal said of his many dives.

Even at 213 cm, he is no stranger to airborne trips into the seats: "I look out for sharp objects, land and spring back up."

The Cavaliers' pair of superstars are still learning how to play together.

They executed perfectly a pick-and-roll in the first, when O'Neal took a pass from James and finished with an easy layup. But his alley-oop pass in the second quarter clanged off the back iron, drawing a smile from James as he jogged back on defense.

Sofoklis Schortsanitis, commonly known as "Baby Shaq" in Greece, had a tough time going against the real Shaq. Schortsanitis didn't get his first basket — on a dunk — until O'Neal was out of the game with seven minutes left until halftime. He finished with 4 points.

Schortsanitis, whose draft rights are held by the Los Angeles Clippers, played a key role in Greece's upset of LeBron and the Americans in the 2006 World Championship.

"I grew up watching Shaq, so it was great," said Schortsanitis, who enjoys being compared to O'Neal. "It's a real honor that I can get a nickname of a player like that. He's an absolute power. I thought I was strong, but he's so strong. I really enjoyed it."

Josh Childress, who played four seasons with Atlanta before leaving for Europe in 2008, scored 16 for Olympiakos.



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