Shaquille O'Neal vowed to protect LeBron James when he was acquired by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the offseason.
Apparently, that goes for the rest of the King's men, too.
O'Neal had 16 points and stepped right in when Jamario Moon was taken down by a hard foul in the fourth quarter, helping the Cavaliers beat visiting New Jersey, 99-89, last night.
With Cleveland leading by 11 with 3:48 left, Devin Harris was called for a flagrant foul and ejected after wrapping his arm around Moon's face and neck and pulling him to the ground when Moon went up for a breakaway basket. James, who finished with 23 points, immediately tried to quiet the incident by putting his arms around Harris, while O'Neal began jawing and pushing his way toward a forming scrum.
"It was a hard foul," O'Neal said. "I just wanted to make sure nobody got into a squabble. A grab here, grab there, everywhere a grab-grab."
No punches were thrown and order was quickly restored. Harris, who said he didn't intend the foul to be malicious, was ejected.
It was another ugly moment in a frustrating season for the Nets (2-23), who opened the year by losing a league-record 18 in a row.
"I tried to not let him get a layup," Harris said. "He did fall kind of hard. What can you do at that point?"
The Nets were within two midway through the third quarter when James took over. His steal and basket prevented New Jersey from tying it and came in the midst of a furious 5-minute stretch, when he scored 10 of the team's 12 points to end the third and start the fourth.
In other games:
* At Charlotte, Stephen Jackson scored 24 points and keyed a late comeback as the Bobcats rallied to end sloppy New York's season-high four-game winning streak, 94-87.
* At Miami, Michael Beasley tied his career high with 28 points, Dwyane Wade added 19 while sitting out the fourth quarter and the Heat won at home for the first time in more than 3 weeks, topping Toronto, 115-95.
* At Chicago, Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 42 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers won for the 12th time in 13 games, beating the fading Bulls, 96-87.
* At Houston, Tracy McGrady sank a three-pointer in his season debut, Luis Scola and Aaron Brooks scored 23 points apiece and the Rockets snapped Detroit's five-game winning streak with a 107-96 win.
* At Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire had 28 points and 14 rebounds and reserve Goran Dragic contributed a career-high 18 points as the Suns earned a 116-104 victory over San Antonio.
* At Portland, LaMarcus Aldridge (25 points) hit the go-ahead layup despite a bum ankle and the Trail Blazers snapped a two-game skid with a 95-88 win over Sacramento.