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Leading Off


COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN W. MCDONOUGH Shaq Therapy The Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal had the stunning experience ofhaving five of his shots blocked by the opposing center when hefaced the Rockets' Yao Ming forthe first time, last Friday inHouston. O'Neal still scored 31 points, but the Rockets won inovertime (page 58).

COLOR PHOTO: PHOTOGRAPH BY BILL WIPPERT On Thin Ice Buffalo Sabres center Stu Barnes kicked up a one-man storm duringa 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Dec. 28 at Buffalo. TheSabres filed for bankruptcy last week and are coming up a littleshort on the ice as well, trailing in the Northeast Division.