O'Neal's departure two games into a five-game trip is the latest
setback for an injury-plagued team that has the worst record in the
Eastern Conference at 8-26 and has lost seven games in a row.
O'Neal had said Sunday he had hoped to return to the lineup Tuesday
He bruised his left hip Dec. 22 when he dived for a loose ball
and slid into the scorer's table during a win over Utah. He
aggravated the injury in a Dec. 26 loss at Philadelphia and hasn't
The hip injury and a sore left knee have contributed to the
least productive season of O'Neal's 16-year career. He is averaging
14 points and 7.8 rebounds in 29 games.
Injury layoffs have been common for O'Neal in recent years. He
missed 39 games last season, when he underwent left knee surgery.
He sat out 21 games during the Heat's 2005-06 championship season
because of a sprained ankle and sprained thumb.
The Heat lost O'Neal's backup, Alonzo Mourning, for the season
when he tore two knee ligaments in a Dec. 19 loss at Atlanta.
Dwyane Wade, Jason Williams and Dorell Wright have all battled