Atlanta (7-28) at Miami (28-11)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Miami, FL
Temp: 87° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Wed Jan 19, 2005
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The Miami Heat hope to have Dwyane Wade back in the lineup when they start a three-game homestand against the Atlanta Hawks.

Wade, who leads Miami with 23.8 points per game, has missed the last two games due to back spasms and a rib contusion. He indicated that he is ready to return Wednesday.

Miami has compiled the best record in the Eastern Conference because of its success against conference opponents, going 20-2. That mark includes an 8-0 record against Southeast Division foes, with two wins over last-place Atlanta.

The Heat concluded a 2-3 road trip with a 114-112 loss in two overtimes to the Los Angeles Clippers last Friday. Shaquille O’Neal collected 39 points and 10 rebounds, but his poor foul shooting hurt Miami.

O’Neal, playing his second game back at Staples Center since being traded to the Heat from the Los Angeles Lakers, made only 15-of-28 free throws. He was critical of the officiating afterward.

“I think I’m the only player in the league, where the (opposing) coach says, ‘We’re going to use our fouls by fouling him every time,”’ O’Neal said. “But the refs don’t seem to call them every time. I really should have had 50 free throws tonight.”

O’Neal is shooting a career-high 60.6 percent from the field and has led Miami in scoring in each of the last six games.

Atlanta, which owns the worst record in the conference, has lost six straight road games. The Hawks have dropped eight of 10 overall after an 85-84 loss to New Jersey on Monday.

Al Harrington scored 22 points and Antoine Walker added 14 on 3-of-18 shooting for Atlanta, which was held below 90 points for the first time in five games.

“We didn’t have it tonight offensively,” Walker said. “I didn’t have it individually and we missed some shots that we usually make. It was a tough game to swallow.”

Walker averaged 19.0 points while shooting under 36 percent in Atlanta’s two losses to Miami this season.

Atlanta has lost six straight at Miami since a 76-73 win on Feb. 5, 2002.

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