Shaq feeling the love

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:56 AM ET

The always quotable Shaquille O'Neal had one of the better post-game lines yesterday. When O'Neal was asked what it was like to hear a louder ovation for another player (Steve Nash), other than himself, O'Neal said: "Never happens."

But a reporter pointed out that Nash had a louder ovation during the warmup than O'Neal did.

"They asked my permission," said O'Neal, who finished with 16 points.

O'Neal is getting long in the tooth, but still leaves a lasting impression on opponents.

"He may not be as quick or as fast as he used to be -- I could not imagine that, it would be scary -- but he still is strong and still skilled, very unselfish with his team," the Raptors' Chris Bosh said. "He's tough to guard, plain and simple. When he is in the paint, he is going to get two feet of paint."

GOOD LUCK

The Raptors began the second half of their season with a loss and the outlook this week is not great. A three-game swing that begins today in Atlanta, with stops in Detroit on Wednesday and in Chicago on Friday, at best is daunting. Only the Bulls are sub-.500.

"It's tough when you look at the teams you are playing and everybody is ahead of us," Bosh said.

"Chicago is playing well, Detroit is Detroit and Atlanta is playing well too. It's very crucial. We have to play as hard as we can."

QUOTE, UNQUOTE

"He had a great impact on me. One of the best basketball experiences of my life and my career was playing for him. Challenging, fun, passionate -- able to walk a line with all of those different hats. Coach, disciplinarian, friend."

-- The Suns' Nash on former Canadian national team coach and current Raptors coach Jay Triano


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