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NBA Preview from The Sports Network

Thursday, March 3rd (All times eastern)

Miami Heat (42-16) at New Jersey Nets (26-32), 7:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Miami Heat go for their third straight win tonight, as they visit All-Star Vince Carter and the New Jersey Nets at Continental Airlines Arena.

The Heat expect to have All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal back in the lineup tonight. He has missed Miami's last three contests with a left knee injury. The Heat, who were 2-1 without Shaq, own the best record in the Eastern Conference at 42-16.

O'Neal, who has missed just four games in the 2004-05 campaign, is averaging 22.7 points and a team-high 10.4 rebounds per game in his first season with the Heat.

Miami's other All-Star Dwyane Wade had 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting and added 11 assists, as the Heat completed a sweep of a home-and-home series with a 112-103 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday at TD Waterhouse Centre. The Heat also got 24 points from Eddie Jones and 22 from Damon Jones in the win over Orlando.

The Heat announced Tuesday that they signed free agent center Alonzo Mourning. As per club policy, terms were not disclosed. The team also requested waivers on swingman Wesley Person. Mourning, who played 12 games for the Nets in 2003-04 and 18 this season, was expected to sign with the Heat last week and accompany them on their road trip coming out of the All-Star break, but the move was put on hold while negotiations took place on Person's buyout.

Mourning, who underwent a kidney transplant in December of 2003, became available back on February 11 when the Toronto Raptors reached an agreement with him to buy out the remaining two years of his contract, thus clearing the way for him to become a free agent.

A seven-time All-Star, Mourning is expected to be in uniform and could see some action for the Heat in tonight's game.

After tonight's contest, the Heat will play seven of their next nine games at AmericanAirlines Arena.

The Heat are a solid 19-11 as the visitor this season. Miami is 5-5 in its last 10 on the road.

New Jersey plays the first of a brief two-game homestand. The Nets are scheduled to host the Magic on Saturday.

On Wednesday, All-Star Vince Carter scored 26 of his 32 points in the second half, as the Nets defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 99-93, at the Wachovia Center. Carter also had eight rebounds and seven assists.

Clifford Robinson finished with 18 points and Jason Kidd contributed 15 points and six assists in the win over the Sixers for New Jersey, which has won three in a row. Travis Best chipped in 14 points in the victory.

The Nets are 16-12 at the Meadowlands this season. New Jersey has won four of its last five on its homecourt.

It will be the second meeting of the season between New Jersey and the Heat. On November 3rd, Miami crushed the Nets, 100-77, at Continental Airlines Arena. With the win, the Heat snapped a six-game series road losing streak. The teams will play one final time in the 2004-05 campaign, as the Heat are scheduled to host the Nets on March 12th in an afternoon contest.

Overall, the home team has won seven of eight and 10 of the last 13 meetings in this series. Miami has won three straight, while the Nets have won seven of the last 11 contests. The Heat have lost seven of nine and eight of their last 11 at New Jersey.

03/03 10:10:58 ET

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