Shaq set to return Friday vs. Phoenix


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PORTLAND, Ore. — Shaquille O’Neal did not participate in Thursday’s shootaround in preparation for the matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers but he did say he will be back Friday against the Phoenix Suns.

O’Neal has missed the past two games with a sore right hip, something he said just began bothering him last week. O’Neal said the hip is nearly 100 percent.

“It was kind of sore and I did what I usually do, go in the (Boston) Bruins locker room and get in the hot tub,” he said. “Get loose, try to get my hip flexible but it was still stiff. When I did that, I told Doc, my (hip’s) kind of stiff. I can’t get loose.”

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Semih Erden will start tonight in place of O’Neal, who said he needs to do a few more tests with trainer Ed Lacerte to get cleared to play against the Suns.