Thursday , Jan , 18 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Shaq on the mend as Heat host Pacers

(Sports Network) – The defending champion Miami Heat are expecting the return
of center Shaquille O’Neal this evening when they host the revamped Indiana
Pacers at AmericanAirlines Arena.

O’Neal has played in just four games this season after he tore cartilage in
his left knee on November 12 versus Houston and had surgery a week later. He
returned to practice last week and participated in a full-contact session on

O’Neal, who is averaging 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds this season, is
questionable for tonight and noted that he will only hit the hardwood if he is
at full strength.

Miami will try to get back on track after having a four-game winning streak
halted in Monday’s 124-118 overtime loss to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles
Lakers at the Staples Center.

Dwyane Wade scored 35 points to lead the Heat, who went 4-2 on a six-game road
trip. Udonis Haslem scored 20 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, James Posey
scored 16 points and Antoine Walker added 13 points for Miami.

The Heat, who are 8-9 at home this season, are 4 1/2 games off the lead in the
Southeast Division.

Indiana will try to snap a two-game skid and suffered a 105-95 loss to the New
Jersey Nets at Continental Airlines Arena.

Al Harrington chipped in 18 points and nine rebounds, while Stephen Jackson,
Jermaine O’Neal and Maceo Baston each netted 14 points for the Pacers, who are
10-12 on the road this season and three games out of first place in the
Central standings.

The Pacers made some noise on Wednesday afternoon by trading Harrington,
Jackson, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Josh Powell to the Golden State Warriors for
Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod. The new Pacer players
will not be in uniform on Thursday night.

Thursday’s game between Indiana and Miami is the first of four meetings this
season. Indiana went 2-1 in the 2005-06 series and has won 14 of the last 16
matchups with the Heat.

The Pacers have also won six of eight and seven of their last 12 trips to
South Beach.