Originally created 02/19/03

Shaq misses game against Yao



LOS ANGELES -- Shaquille O'Neal ruled himself out of Tuesday night's game against Yao Ming and the Houston Rockets because of a sore left knee.

"We do not expect him to play," Lakers spokesman John Black said after a light practice at the team's facility in El Segundo.

It wasn't known whether O'Neal would travel to Utah for Wednesday night's game against the Jazz. The Lakers play home games against Portland on Friday and Seattle on Sunday.

The three-time defending NBA champions entered Tuesday's game 23-15 with O'Neal and 3-10 without him. The Rockets (27-24) went in with a one-game lead over the Lakers for the final Western Conference playoff berth.

Also hampered by soreness in his surgically repaired right big toe, O'Neal said after practice Monday he wasn't close to being 100 percent.

"I'm very frustrated because it's not supposed to be happening," he said. "Usually knick-knack injuries go away when I play through them, but it hasn't gone away. It's gotten worse.

"I want to win the whole thing and not just go out and win games. I want to get right before I come back."

O'Neal, who's averaging 25.9 points and 10.6 rebounds, had toe surgery in September and missed the season's first 12 games.

He played the next 38 games before sitting out Sunday night's 117-110 loss to New York.

O'Neal didn't play in a 93-89 loss to the visiting Rockets on Nov. 17. Yao shot 9-of-9 in scoring 20 points - by far his best NBA game to that stage.

The Rockets also won 108-104 at home in overtime on Jan. 17, when O'Neal and Yao faced off for the first time. O'Neal had 31 points and 13 rebounds, while Yao had 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks.