<
>

Swingman returns from suspensions

MIAMI -- Qyntel Woods' rocky season may finally be on an
upswing.

Woods, waived by Portland earlier this season after two
suspensions _ one for violating the NBA's drug policy and another
after he was charged with animal abuse _ was activated Tuesday by
the Miami Heat. He was in uniform for the Heat's home game against
Toronto, but did not play in Miami's 103-91 win, their 17th in a row at home.

Woods has not played in a game with either Portland or Miami
this season.
"It took a while just for me to get back in the swing of
things, get back in good shape and adjust to the new system," said
Woods, who was signed by Miami on Jan. 26. "I feel good. I've been
waiting on this since October. To finally get a chance to put the
uniform on, that's an accomplishment in itself."
To make room for Woods, Miami placed forward Rasual Butler on
the injured list with tendinitis in his right knee. Butler, who's
averaged 6.1 points and 2.2 rebounds in 61 games this season --
including 15 starts -- had not played in five of Miami's six
previous games before Tuesday.
"I've just been very happy with Qyntel's practices for about
three weeks," Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. "He's been one of
the better perimeter players in there and there may be some
situations where he can help us."
Shaquille O'Neal offered a similar assessment. "He's a great
athlete, good passer," O'Neal said. "He's been working hard and
waiting his turn. He can help us out in many ways."
The 6-foot-8 Woods averaged 3.1 points and 1.6 rebounds in two
seasons with the Blazers. Portland waived him after Woods
acknowledged in court that he mistreated his dog, drawing a
sentence of 12 months of probation and 80 hours of community
service.
The Heat said they had no major reservations when signing him,
and his play at practice quickly captured Van Gundy's attention.
"It gets to the point where you're saying 'He's one of the
better people out here,'" Van Gundy said. "Why are we sitting
him?"