O'Neal expected to resume practice shortly

MIAMI -- Shaquille O'Neal, recovering from knee surgery,
could return to the lineup Jan. 15 against the Los Angeles Lakers
when the Miami Heat complete a six-game road trip.

O'Neal hasn't practiced since tearing cartilage in his left knee
Nov. 12. He underwent surgery a week later and was then projected
to be sidelined until at least late December.

The 34-year-old O'Neal is expected to resume running and
practicing soon. He estimated that he'll need a "couple of
practices" to feel comfortable enough to play.

"There ain't no way to get in great basketball shape than play
basketball," he said Monday.

Riley said O'Neal has stayed in good shape, with his weight
under 330 pounds and his body fat below 13 percent.

"He has really worked to be ready," Riley said. "Now we just
want to make sure he stays back."

The defending NBA champions have struggled without O'Neal, who
has played only four games. They're 13-17 and third in the
Southeast Division.

O'Neal averaged 14.0 points and 7.5 rebounds before the injury.

The Heat host the Clippers on Wednesday and start their road
trip against the Phoenix Suns on Friday.