Heat center injured before halftime

Updated: April 17, 2005, 8:27 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Miami Heat center Shaquille O'Neal bruised his right thigh Sunday shortly before halftime against the Indiana Pacers and missed the rest of the game.

Shaquille O'Neal
Miami Heat
72 23.0 10.5 2.8 .601 .462

Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said O'Neal is day to day, but cautioned that he wouldn't play the 12-time All-Star again until he's physically ready. Miami has two regular-season games remaining.

O'Neal appeared to limp slightly as he walked to the locker room with 43.7 seconds remaining in the first half. He had 11 points and three rebounds in 17 minutes, and did not speak with reporters before leaving the arena.

O'Neal was hurt while defending Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal, who was driving to the basket. As O'Neal rose for a layup, his knee slammed into the quad of the Miami center.

With O'Neal out, the Heat watched a 10-point lead slip away in the second half before holding on for an 84-80 victory to snap a four-game losing streak.

"We knew we had to step it up," Heat forward Eddie Jones said. "We knew we didn't have that guy we could throw it inside to and have him create everything for everybody."

The quad injury is the latest malady for O'Neal, who missed three games earlier this month with a stomach virus. He returned for Miami's games in Philadelphia and Boston last week.

"Going into the playoffs, you don't want to go out there and tough it out," Heat guard Dwyane Wade said. "That just shows the confidence he has in this team. A big game that we needed, he could have tried to come back and go through the game hurting. But he told us to go out there and get the win."

O'Neal is averaging 22.9 points and 10.4 rebounds this season for Miami.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press