Boston (4-7) at Miami (9-5)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Miami, FL
Temp: 90° F
  • Game info: 6:00 pm EST Sun Nov 28, 2004
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Shaquille O’Neal and the Miami Heat are hoping the officials won’t have an impact on the outcome of their next game.

They’ll look to recover from their first conference loss of the season when they host the Boston Celtics at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Miami fell to 8-1 against East opponents after Friday’s tough 78-77 loss in Detroit.

The Heat claimed afterward that they were victimized by several unfavorable calls, and O’Neal was particularly unhappy about being whistled for a traveling violation with 2:13 left.

“There were a lot of questionable calls, like the traveling,” said O’Neal, who had 24 points and 17 rebounds. “I never travel.”

The Heat were even more upset when it appeared that Detroit’s Rasheed Wallace may have interfered with a potential game-winning shot by Udonis Haslem at the buzzer. No goaltending was called, and Miami coach Stan Van Gundy complained about the officials, claiming Detroit coach Larry Brown had influenced them with comments through the media.

O’Neal’s effort ended a string of four straight games in which Dwyane Wade led Miami in scoring. Wade managed 17 points on 6-of-17 shooting against the Pistons after averaging 28.5 points in his previous four games.

O’Neal has put up some gaudy career numbers against Boston, averaging 29.1 points and 13.7 rebounds in 26 games.

Boston is trying to snap a three-game losing streak as it opens a two-game trip to Florida. The Celtics lost to Cleveland 98-96 on Friday as Paul Pierce’s tying jumper was blocked by LeBron James at the buzzer.

Pierce scored 25 points, but missed 12-of-19 shots.

“This is one of those games I felt like I let the team down,” Pierce said. “There are going to be other times, but I’ll lift the team up more than I’ll let it down.”

The game will also mark a reunion between O’Neal and Celtics guard Gary Payton. O’Neal helped persuade Payton to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers as a free agent last season, but both left the team this past offseason.

Payton matched a season high with 10 assists Friday, but the Celtics fell to 0-5 when Payton hands out at least eight assists.

STANDINGS (through Nov. 26): Celtics - 4th place, 1 1/2 GB, Atlantic Division. Heat - 1st place (tied), Southeast Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Celtics - F Jiri Welsch, F Raef LaFrentz, C Mark Blount, G Payton, G Pierce. Heat - F Haslem, F Rasual Butler, C O’Neal, G Wade, G Eddie Jones.

TEAM LEADERS: Celtics - Pierce, 23.1 ppg and 7.4 rpg; Payton, 7.1 apg. Heat - Wade, 25.2 ppg and 7.6 apg; O’Neal, 11.7 rpg.

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Tied, 2-2.

LAST MEETING: April 12; Heat, 84-77. At Boston, Pierce sat out with a sprained ankle to snap his streak of consecutive games played at 110, including the playoffs. Lamar Odom, now with the Lakers, scored 28 points to lead Miami.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Celtics - 1-3 on the road; Heat - 5-2 at home.

INJURIES: Celtics - F Justin Reed (hip); F Michael Stewart (knee); F Tom Gugliotta (back). Heat - F Malik Allen (back); F Jerome Beasley (back); G-F Dorell Wright (abdomen).

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