Sunday , Dec , 11 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Shaq’s return would be a big lift for Heat when they face Washington

(Sports Network) – The struggling Miami Heat and Washington Wizards meet today
at AmericanAirlines Arena in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference

Miami has clearly missed superstar center Shaquille O’Neal, who has been out
for 18 straight games with an ankle injury and could possibly return for
today’s contest. Shaq has not played since November 3rd, when the Heat lost to
the Indiana Pacers, 105-102, in front of their home crowd. Miami is 9-9
without its dominant big man. Shaq’s return would be a huge boost for the
Heat, who have dropped four straight contests.

The Heat have won eight straight and nine of the last 11 contests in this
series. The last time Washington defeated Miami was on April 11, 2003.

Washington has lost four straight and six of its last seven at Miami.

The slumping Heat play the finale of a brief two-game homestand. On Friday,
Carmelo Anthony poured in a season-high 40 points, as the Denver Nuggets
rallied from a late fourth-quarter deficit to post a 100-92 win over Miami at
AmericanAirlines Arena.

All-Star Dwyane Wade netted a season-high 37 points and grabbed 10 boards in
the loss to Denver for the Heat, who have dropped six of their last nine games
overall. Antoine Walker added 17 points and eight rebounds for Miami, which
missed its last five shots of the contest.

Wade (hip) is probable for today’s contest, while guard Jason Williams (knee)
is questionable. Williams did not play Friday against the Nuggets.

Miami is 7-3 as the host this season. The Heat have lost two of their last
three at home.

After today’s game, the Heat will embark on a four-game road trip. They will
visit Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Cleveland on the upcoming swing.

Washington has dropped two straight games. On Saturday, Chris Duhon tied a
career-high with 24 points and added seven assists, as Chicago rallied from a
double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to post a 118-111 win over the Wizards at
the MCI Center.

Gilbert Arenas poured in a game-high 42 points for the Wizards, who have
dropped three of their last four games overall. Arenas, who also had seven
assists, was 11-of-22 from the field and 16-of-20 from the foul line. Antawn
Jamison, Brendan Haywood and Caron Butler all scored 16 points in the loss.
Jamison also had 12 rebounds.

The Wizards are 3-6 on the road this season. They have lost two straight as
the visitor.