Jermaine holds out hope for playoffs
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.
The Pacers are 22-19 with O'Neal in the lineup this season, 11-12 without him.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press