PHOENIX (AP)—Shaquille O’Neal appreciates his place among the greats of the NBA. He just thinks he should have done more.
O’Neal scored 13 in the Phoenix Suns’ 128-96 victory over Washington on Saturday night to pass Moses Malone as the No. 5 scorer in NBA history with 27,411 points. Since No. 4 Wilt Chamberlain is 4,008 points ahead of him, O’Neal seems to have risen as far as he’ll go.
“It was good, but I’m still kind of disappointed in myself,” O’Neal said. “Mathematically, I’ve missed three years worth of games and I missed 5,000 free throws. If I was there, I’d probably be No. 2 or No. 3 right now.”
Then he added, “It shows I’ve been consistent at what I’ve been doing and the next guy is my illegitimate father—Wilt Chamberlain—so just like in Star Wars, hopefully I can catch up to my father.”
He responded with 35 points, 17 in the third quarter, Phoenix extended its winning streak to a season-high four games.
“It’s being aggressive,” Richardson said. “Coach asked me to pick up the slack after the first half of Philadelphia (Wednesday night), because losing LB, it’s a lot of scoring. He gives us 14 or 15 points a game and I have to go out there and be more aggressive.”
Steve Nash added 17 points for the Suns, who pulled with 3 1/2 games of idle Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West with 13 to play.
“It was a good win,” Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said, “and obviously we have to win all of our games to try and keep pace.”
Stromile Swift had 10 points and 12 rebounds in his best game since joining Phoenix on March 4.
“If you take the big three there—Steve getting the ball to Shaq, Shaq throwing it to J-Rich—we just didn’t have an answer for that,” Washington coach Ed Tapscott said. “And then I thought the Suns’ bench did a heck of a job coming in and maintaining the energy.”
Antawn Jamison scored 25 as the Wizards completed a winless four-game, five-day trip west.
“They put a zone on us and we acted like we’ve never seen a zone before in our lives,” Jamison said. “Once we didn’t play well against their zone, we let it affect the way we got back defensively.”
Richardson was 5-for-5 on 3-pointers in the third quarter to put Phoenix ahead 90-75 entering the fourth.
Richardson’s fourth 3-pointer of the quarter made it 73-65 with 6:35 left, then Phoenix stretched it to 77-67 on a fast-break basket after a behind-the-back pass from Richardson to Matt Barnes. Barnes’ dunk attempt sailed high off the rim, then back through the net. He was fouled on the play but missed the free throw.
Richardson kept it going after that. Swift scored the first basket of the fourth quarter, then Richardson had a three-point play and a thunderous reverse dunk to put Phoenix ahead 97-75 10:18 from the finish. Swift scored again to make it 99-75.
The Suns took a 25-12 lead behind nine quick points by Richardson and were up 31-16 after one quarter.
The Wizards outscored Phoenix 10-2 over the final two minutes of the half, though, to cut the Suns’ lead to 57-53 at the break. Washington had it down to 60-59 on Mike James’ 9-foot runner early in the second half. That’s when Richardson started his 3-point barrage.
The first quarter marked the Suns’ 10th straight period with at least 30 points, the longest such stretch in the NBA in 17 years. … Phoenix is 8-0 against sub-.500 teams since Gentry became coach. … Washington has lost 13 straight road games against teams with winning records.