"It actually felt pretty good to get hit like that," O'Neal deadpanned of Stackhouse's third-quarter play, judged a flagrant foul. "Thank you, Jerry. Appreciate it."
O'Neal took the blow good-naturedly Thursday, an attitude obviously made much easier to adopt after Miami's 98-74 victory.
"My daughters tackle me harder when I come home," O'Neal joked. "You know, I'm one of the last players from the old school, and you just have to take a hard foul like that and keep on moving."
That was the consensus after the game, though Miami coach Pat Riley ran across the floor immediately after the play, apparently fearing a skirmish.
"[O'Neal] asked me, 'Why did you come running out there? You thought I was going to go after him?' " Riley said. "I said no. I don't know why I did it, I just did it. I've been there too many times."
The play was a good one, Stackhouse insisted, though he probably faces a fine. "When Shaq is going to the basket, we want to make him go to the free-throw line and earn it," Stackhouse said. "It was just a hard foul, that's all."
Former Jazz forward Shandon Anderson, who averaged 6.6 points in 49 postseason games with Utah in the late 1990s, made his first appearance of the Finals in the first half of Thursday's game.
Anderson entered the game just 12 seconds into the second quarter, after Udonis Haslem was charged with his third foul, and played the rest of the quarter, then eight minutes more after halftime.
He finished with two points, five rebounds - and the thanks of a grateful coach.
"I thought Shandon did a great job," Riley said. "I told [him] the other day, the fatigue was beginning to show on Dwyane and some of our perimeter players, so just be ready."
Locker room breach
Security was noticeably tighter in the hallways and at the entrances to the teams' locker rooms on Thursday, with credentials being carefully checked.
With good reason, too. Two unauthorized women walked into Dallas' locker room after Game 3, milled around as members of the media interviewed players, and even strolled into the players' shower room. They were finally noticed and ordered to leave, but the Mavs said the incident was a little worrisome.
"I was thinking about the tennis player, Monica Seles," who was stabbed by a deranged fan at a tournament in 1993, said Dallas guard Darrell Armstrong. "What if they were after someone? That's not good."
The Mavs have used only 10 players through the series' first three games, with Armstrong and Josh Powell eligible but not used. If the Mavs choose to, they can deactivate one of their players and add center D.J. Mbenga to the roster for Sunday's Game 5. Mbenga served the last of his six-game suspension, levied after he entered the stands during the Dallas-Phoenix conference finals, on Thursday. . . . Fans behind the basket waved masks of TV actor David Hasselhoff, distributed by a local radio station, whenever Dirk Nowitzki shot free throws.