By Mike Wells
Indiana Pacers shooting guard Fred Jones will spend time on the sidelines nursing his injured left thumb.
"He got cracked pretty hard the other night in the Chicago game," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said.
Jones originally injured his thumb against the New York Knicks on March 7. He missed three straight games before returning March 13.
Jones has struggled from the field despite wearing a brace. He has shot 29 percent from the field since returning to the lineup.
"You could tell it was affecting his game offensively just because so many things involved with shooting the ball happen with your left hand," Carlisle said. "Rhythmically, he just wasn't the same over the last week or 10 days."
The loss of Jones means Carlisle will have to find a backup shooting guard. Carlisle said he may play Jamaal Tinsley and Anthony Johnson in the backcourt together or use Sarunas Jasikevicius -- who is getting limited playing time as the third point guard -- at shooting guard.
SIGH! Sarunas at shooting guard!
I would think that we have seen enough of Sarunas at shooting guard. He's not really effective there. Since Carlisle is using AJ and Tinsel at time as shooting guards it would make sense to play Sarunas at point and let AJ or Tinsel play shooting guard.
Even better when using two point guards would be to let them run the point interchangeably. In other words the same guy wouldn't bring the ball up the court each time.
Dungy visits Saunders
Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy was at the Detroit Pistons' shootaround Friday morning to see coach Flip Saunders. Dungy and Saunders both attended the University of Minnesota.
"We try to talk a little bit, keep in touch every now and then, follow each other's career," Saunders said. "It's a unique situation. You have two guys who played with each other, went four years together."
The Pistons have already wrapped up the Central Division. Their final goal in the regular season is to wrap up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs and try not to look too far ahead.
Dungy knows about trying to maintain momentum heading into the playoffs. The Colts started 13-0, only to lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs.
"That's going to be the toughest thing for these guys," Dungy said.
O'Neal comes off bench
Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal, playing his second game since returning from his torn left groin, came off the bench again Friday.
O'Neal eventually will be back in the starting lineup, Carlisle said, but the Pacers don't want to overload him with minutes early after he missed 24 straight games.
He checked in with 4:07 left in the first quarter and played 29 minutes, scoring eight points and grabbing seven rebounds.