By Dave McMenamin
AK-47 rises up to block Jameer:
Video: NBA TV Top 10

Shaq celebrated his 34th birthday with 35 points in an OT win.
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
NBA Photo Exhibit: March 6, 2006

Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
115-101 win vs. Grizzlies
35 pts, 15-22 FG, 5-6 FT

Brad Miller, Kings
109-84 win at Nets
21 pts, 9-10 FG, 1-1 3-pt FG
2-2 FT

Michael Finley & Manu Ginobili, Spurs
103-96 win vs. Lakers
42 pts, 15-22 FG, 10-12 3-pt FG

Jumaine Jones, Bobcats
106-105 OT loss vs. Heat
2-11 FG, 2-9 3-pt FG, 7 pts

Pau Gasol, Grizzlies
115-101 loss at Nuggets
3-10 FG, 10 pts

Smush Parker, Lakers
103-96 loss vs. Spurs
3-11 FG, 9 pts

The George Washington Colonials had a pretty good weekend as they beat Charlotte (University) at the buzzer. Ironically, a player on Charlotte's pro team, the Bobcats, kept up the run of stellar play in the name of GW on Monday. Gerald Wallace scored 26 points and ripped 15 boards in his team's 106-105 OT loss to Miami. G.W. also had six steals and blocked two shots (including a Shaquille O'Neal dunk attempt) in the contest.

"Sadly, we had a pair of MVPs go down on Monday. Tim Duncan took a finger to the eye and Steve Nash turned his ankle. As we speak, here on Monday night, no details are known as far as timetables for their returns. But I do know this; Nash and Duncan are as tough as they come, and I'll be surprised if they miss mega time. But, if they do, the pickups would be Leandro Barbosa and Robert Horry."

Andrei Kirilenko has the lateral quickness. He has the lengthy appendages. He has the springy legs. And thanks to all of these skills, he has lockdown honors yet again for his performance in Monday's 90-85 home win over the Magic. The robust Russian had nine rebounds and six blocks, two of those rejections coming in the last 10 seconds of the game. AK-47 swatted a Jameer Nelson layup attempt with eight seconds left to protect a two-point Jazz lead and then, after calmly hitting two free throws, used his whole body to consume a DeShawn Stevenson shot attempt with three seconds left to preserve the victory.
The Bobcats returned to Charlotte after a five-game road trip and found it hotter than they left it as Miami and its eight-game win streak was in town. Charlotte jumped out a 15-point lead but Shaquille O'Neal, on his birthday (see: Storyline #1), scored 14 points in the fourth to bring the Heat within three before Jason Williams hit a 3-pointer to tie it (see: Cool/Clutch) with less a minute to go. Primoz Brezec missed a jumper way short at the buzzer and the game continued to overtime. In the extra session, Shaq gave Miami its first lead of the second half, dunking home two points with 42.6 left to put the Heat up, 106-104. On the ensuing possession, Raymond Felton was put at the foul line, where he missed the first of two foul shots. Miami regained possession and was able to run out the clock, holding on for the 106-105 road win, in the process extending its win streak to nine.

"I kept looking down the bench to see if Steve was coming back, so much so I may have whiplash. But the guys did a great job without him."

-- Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni, whose Suns outscored the Hornets 30-9 in the fourth quarter without Steve Nash who sat nursing a turned ankle as Phoenix ran its win streak to 11 with a 101-88 road victory.

1. Happy Birthday, Daddy
The Big Aristotle had another big birthday performance. Shaquille O'Neal scored a season-high 35 points on 16-for-23 shooting and grabbed 12 rebounds on the same day he turned 34-years old in the Heat's 106-105 OT win over Charlotte. Shaq blew out the candles, but Miami was in danger of getting blown out, as it fell down by 15 in the first half. O'Neal responded, scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter and all eight of the Heat's points in overtime to seal the win - Miami's ninth straight. This isn't the first time Shaq's given himself a big birthday present. On March 6, 2000, back when O'Neal had yet to enter the realm of thirtysomething, Shaquille scored a career-high 61 points against the Clippers.

2. I Wonder What Craig Forth is Up To These Days?
Two of the three starting members of the 2003 NCAA Champion Syracuse Orange frontline squared up on Monday as Carmelo Anthony's Nuggets sent Hakim Warrick's Grizzlies packing with a 115-101 loss to take with them. Melo scored 17 of his game-high 35 points in the third quarter as Denver extended its lead to 22 heading into the final quarter. Warrick scored 12 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter to lead a mini-comeback as Memphis cut the lead to nine with 4:02 remaining, but that was as close as it would get. Ruben Patterson hit a jumper and Anthony swatted a Warrick dunk attempt from behind - fighting back a smile as he ran back down the floor - as the Nuggets beat the Grizzlies for the 16th straight time in Denver.

3. Finals Split
The Lakers beat the 2005 Finals runner-up Pistons on Saturday and what was their prize? A date with the 2005 Finals champion Spurs on Monday. Kobe Bryant scored 43 points - his third straight 40-pointer - but the Lakers were outscored by 17 in the third quarter and could not claw back, succumbing 103-96 at home. Manu Ginobili scored 12 of his 21 points in the decisive third period and Michael Finley added 21 off the bench. Tim Duncan anchored the champs with 18 points, seven rebounds and a season-high nine assists before leaving with an eye injury (see: Kamla). If the playoffs were to start today, the Spurs (47-12, No. 1 seed) would face off against the Lakers (31-30, No. 8 seed) in the first round.

Chris Paul had to have gotten up for this game. First of all, he was matched up at point guard with Mr. MVP Steve Nash. Secondly, he had to have wanted to erase the memory of his team's 16-point second half in their last outing. For three quarters it seemed like it would be Paul's day. The Hornets exploded for 61 first-half points and led by eight heading into the fourth with Nash sitting on the bench with a turned ankle. Phoenix however, rallied without Nash to outscore New Orleans/Oklahoma City 30-9, handing the Hornets a 101-88 home loss. It will be interesting to see how Paul (14 points, 11 assists) responds to a few setbacks as he tries to steer his swarm of Hornets into the playoffs.

Ever since Dwyane Wade established himself as Miami's go-to guy down the stretch, thinking about anybody else on the Heat hoisting up a key shot in the waning moments seems like a big bowl of wrong. But, with Wade sidelined for the second straight game with a wrist injury, and Miami down three with 46 seconds left, Jason Williams made everything all right. White Chocolate nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game and give him his 11th, 12th and 13th points of the fourth quarter. The Heat won 106-105 in overtime over the Bobcats, marking the third time in the last four games that Miami has trailed by 13 points or more at some point and come back to win.

After only playing one game the entire month of February due to a groin injury, Bonzi Wells is back and the Kings are making a playoff push. Wells had 16 points and 10 rebounds as the Kings won for the fourth time in five games, beating the Nets 109-84 on the road. Sacramento now sits 1 1/2 games behind the Lakers for the eighth seed in the West, but with the bolster of Bonzi back into the mix, the postseason is certainly a possibility.