As the New Year begins, it's as good a time as any to sit back and ponder those unanswerable questions that plague us all: How deep is space? When did time begin? And why does Miami give the Jazz such a hard time?

It is Miami's third season in the NBA, and though the Heat remain one of the worst teams in the league, the Jazz always have trouble with the team from South Florida. In Miami's inaugural season, the Jazz lost 101-80 at Miami Arena. Last year, the Jazz managed to lose 105-104 in Miami. And this year, two days before Christmas, they fell 99-93 to the Heat, again in Miami. The teams meet for the second time this year, Wednesday at 7:30 in the Salt Palace.Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan offers no concrete answers to the question of what to do about bad teams that beat good ones. "There's not that big a difference between the top and the bottom," says Sloan. "Maybe one or two players. Once they learn how to win, they become very competitive."

Being competitive may prove difficult for the Heat, despite their success against the Jazz. Last week, star player Rony Seikaly went down with a sprained knee and will miss the next couple of weeks. That leaves them without their leading scorer (18.0) and rebounder (8.9). Then on Sunday, Sherman Douglas, the team's leading assist man (8.3) and second-leading scorer (16.3) sustained a fractured finger in the Heat's win over the Clippers. He is not expected to play against the Jazz.

In the last meeting between the clubs, Seikaly had 21 points and 14 rebounds. Douglas added 23 points, Glen Rice 20, and forward Grant Long pulled in 15 rebounds.

Replacing Seikaly will be second-year center Terry Davis (6-foot-10, 236), from Virginia Union. Davis has started 12 games this season and averaged 5.3 points.

"They've been very tough for us to play. They work hard against us and it's tough to get everything we get against them," said Sloan.

The Jazz went through a rigorous practice session on Monday, one in which guard Darrell Griffith was absent due to the flu. Tuesday they had a lighter workout.

The Jazz follow Wednesay's game by hosting Philadelphia on Friday and traveling to Sacramento on Saturday.

Pregame Notes: Forward Thurl Bailey will be playing in his 600th career game for the Jazz, fourth on the all-time Jazz list . . . Center Mark Eaton has scored higher than his season average (4.8) in his last eight games. John Stockton needs 25 assists to pass Dennis Johnson for 15th place on the NBA all-time assist list.