By Mike Wells
March 12, 2005
The Indiana Pacers could know more information as early as today on the severity of forward Jermaine O'Neal's shoulder injury.
"He's going to check in with our doctors and get a complete prognosis," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.
O'Neal spent most of the week in Los Angeles getting extra medical opinions on his shoulder. O'Neal is eligible to come off the injured list for Wednesday's game against Utah, but he's expected to remain out longer.
If surgery is required, O'Neal's season will likely be over.
O'Neal attended Friday night's game against Golden State, but declined to be interviewed.
"I'm not ready to talk yet," O'Neal said as he walked back to the court from the locker room for the second half of the game.
In the meantime, O'Neal's teammates are working under the assumption he's going to be out for some time. One player even suggested O'Neal might have a dislocation.
"With a dislocated shoulder, I've heard it takes three to six weeks," point guard Anthony Johnson said. "Hopefully it's on the short end of that. We just have to hang in there and win as many games as possible."
That darn alarm clock
Not waking up in time to go to shootaround practice Friday morning cost forward Stephen Jackson his starting spot against the Warriors.
Jackson overslept, but he quickly called Carlisle to inform his coach what happened.
"These things happen," Carlisle said. "When it happens, a guy misses a start and it's not that big of a deal. It may have worked out for the better because he really juiced up our bench."
Jackson checked into the game with 3:42 left in the first quarter and it took him only 41 seconds to score. He finished with a game-high 22 points.
"If I wouldn't have called in, then I would have been in trouble," Jackson said. "I had no problem coming off the bench. That's my punishment for not making it to practice. I respect the coach with the decision."
Like the playground
The "small ball" the Pacers have been using to make up for the loss of O'Neal has some players thinking back to their childhood playground games. That is, no true center, just five athletic players on the court.
"This is how everybody grew up playing," Jackson said. "You didn't always have a big man. A lot of times you had the 6-5 guy playing center. If we play together, this style of ball can work."
The Pacers have used lineups that feature 6-10 Austin Croshere as the big man.
Call Star reporter Mike Wells at (317) 444-6053.
My question is will we hear anything tonight?