Shaquille O'Neal fined $35,000 for ref comments

Shaquille O'Neal fined $35,000 for ref comments

NEW YORK — Shaquille O'Neal has been fined $35,000 by the NBA for his public comments about the officiating.

O'Neal criticized the referees following the Boston Celtics' 86-78 loss at Orlando on Christmas. He was angry after picking up his sixth foul when Magic center Dwight Howard fell to the ground as they were wrestling for position.

O'Neal said: "I just wonder why I've never gotten that call in 20 years. Don't pick and choose when you're going to make the call. ... That's what happens when you've got control freaks."

NEW YORK — The highly anticipated first matchup between the new-look Heat and the defending-champion Lakers drew the highest television rating for an NBA regular-season game on ABC since 2004.

Miami's 96-80 Christmas win earned a 6.4 fast national rating Saturday. That's up 45 percent over the game in the same window last year, also a matchup between Los Angeles and LeBron James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It's the best since a 7.3 for another Heat-Lakers meeting on Christmas six years earlier.

Duke again sweeps voteas top team in country

Duke is again a unanimous No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25.

The Blue Devils, who have been on top of the poll all season, received all the first-place votes from the 65-member nationwide media panel Monday. Duke's three-week run as a unanimous choice fell one vote short last week, when Ohio State received a first-place vote.

Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, San Diego State and Villanova held second through eighth. Georgetown and Missouri flipped ninth and 10th.

Florida will be without four starters for Penn State

TAMPA, Fla. — Florida will be without cornerback Janoris Jenkins and three other starters against Penn State in the Outback Bowl.

Jenkins had surgery on his right shoulder recently and will miss the New Year's Day game. Right tackle Maurice Hurt and defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders also will miss coach Urban Meyer's finale. None of them traveled with the team to Tampa.

FIU hitting star Wittels charged with rape

MIAMI — Florida International University baseball star Garrett Wittels and a group of friends were arrested in the Bahamas last week and charged with the rape of two 17-year-old girls.

The incident happened at the Atlantis Resort and Casino in Paradise Island on Dec. 20. Wittels and two friends were each released on $10,000 bond after a court hearing Thursday.

The others involved in the incident are Robert Rothschild, 21, and Jonathan Oberti, 21, Steven Tromberg of Miami, and David Shapiro, according to Bahamian Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez in Nassau.

Wittels, Rothschild and Oberti were all charged with rape in connection with 17-year-old American girls. Tromberg and Shapiro are still being held pending a hearing that could take place as early as Tuesday.

Wittels, 20, holds the second-longest hitting streak in NCAA history, and is expected to make a run at breaking that record when the season begins in February.

In a phone interview Monday, Wittels' father, Michael Wittels, told The Miami Herald Monday that when all the facts come out, his son would be vindicated.

Compiled from wire reports