INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Pacers All-Star forward Jermaine O'Neal said Friday that he will miss the remainder of the regular
season with a sprained right shoulder.
O'Neal, among the NBA leaders in scoring with a career-high
average of 25.1 points, was hurt March 3 when his right arm pulled
back by Denver's Francisco Elson on a drive to the basket. He has
not played since then.
O'Neal talked about the injury outside the Pacers locker room
during the third quarter of Indiana's 103-97 win over the Lakers.
He said he tore the area under his right arm that holds the arm
when it is extended backward.
"When you dislocate your shoulder, you stretch things that
shouldn't be stretched and you tear things," he said. "That's an
injury that can be tricky a little bit."
O'Neal said he will not have surgery and left open the
possibility of returning for the playoffs if the Pacers make it.
"It's good news because I've talked to a lot of doctors that
really thought it's an injury that could take surgery," he said.
"But it's an injury that I probably should wait and let it
naturally heal before I let somebody cut on me because it takes six
or seven months for it to heal. That would actually put me out a
little bit further going into next season."
Since O'Neal's injury, the Pacers are 5-2 heading into Sunday's
home game against New Jersey.
O'Neal was suspended for 15 games after the November brawl with
Detroit Pistons fans that led to the season-long suspension of Ron
Artest and a 30-game suspension for Stephen Jackson.
Several other Pacers have also missed significant time with
injuries this season, including Reggie Miller, Jamaal Tinsley, Jeff
Foster, Jonathan Bender and Scot Pollard.
The Pacers are 22-19 with O'Neal in the lineup this season,
11-12 without him.