The Miami Heat hope Shaquille O'Neal will be back for their next game after the star center was held out of last night's game against the Boston Celtics because of a bruised left...

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The Miami Heat hope Shaquille O’Neal will be back for their next game after the star center was held out of last night’s game against the Boston Celtics because of a bruised left calf.

O’Neal was injured in Sunday’s victory over Orlando, and received treatment Monday and yesterday with the hopes of playing against the Celtics — a game Miami managed to win without him, 108-100 behind a 33-point, 11-assist effort from Dwyane Wade.

“We didn’t know for sure until right before the game,” Heat coach Stan Van Gundy said. “Shaq, to his credit, was trying to do everything he could to get ready to play. We prepared as though we would not have him.”

O’Neal did not speak to reporters yesterday, and never appeared in the Heat locker room after the game. He didn’t take part in the team’s shoot-around either, spending the time getting extra treatment on the calf.

A similar injury to his right calf kept O’Neal out of 12 games last season. The Heat’s next game is tomorrow at Sacramento.

“He doesn’t have a major, major injury,” Van Gundy said. “It’s just going to be a matter of swelling and pain.”

Bucks protest Mason fouls

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks have filed a protest with the NBA over the two technical fouls called against forward Desmond Mason in the third quarter against Philadelphia on Saturday at the Bradley Center.

Mason was ejected after by referee Marc Davis during a timeout with 2:57 remaining in the third quarter. Philadelphia led at the time, 69-63, and went on to win 116-97.

“I placed a call to the league and they’re looking into it,” general manager Larry Harris said.

Arbitrator nears ruling

Arbitrator Roger Kaplan said he will issue a ruling “in the next couple of days” on an appeal of the brawl-related suspensions given to four members of the Indiana Pacers.

The case is almost certain to move to federal court if Kaplan rules in favor of the players and orders reductions in some of the longest suspensions ever handed down by commissioner David Stern.

Ron Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season, Stephen Jackson received a 30-game suspension, Jermaine O’Neal 25 and Anthony Johnson six for their roles in a brawl with fans in Auburn Hills, Mich., during a Nov. 19 Pacers-Pistons game.


Kerry Kittles, Los Angeles Clippers guard, was placed on the injured list because of a back injury. He missed 17 of the first 18 games with a sore right knee, then recently experienced pain in his lower back. Kittles, 30, was diagnosed as having a sciatic condition caused by a bulging disc.

• All-Star guard Baron Davis was activated from the injured list by the New Orleans Hornets, but did not play last night. Davis played in the season’s first five games, averaging 24.6 points and eight assists. But he missed the next 18 games, going on the injured list Nov. 17 with an inflamed disc in his lower back.

• Miami Heat owner Micky Arison said the team may raise ticket prices next season, bridging what he says is a gap between attendance and revenue. Simply put, the Heat couldn’t cash in on the O’Neal craze this season, outside of selling more tickets.