Bird to wear mask over bruised, but not broken nose

Updated: August 21, 2006, 11:52 PM ET
By Miki Turner | Special to ESPN.com

LOS ANGELES -- Seattle All-Star point guard Sue Bird is expected to play while wearing a mask to protect her injured nose Tuesday night when the Storm meet the Los Angeles Sparks in the decisive Game 3 of their first-round WNBA playoff series.

Sue Bird
After a broken nose that required surgery, Sue Bird was on the court less than 24 hours later and led the Storm to the '04 WNBA title the following week.

"You know, honest, I don't know that it's not broken," Seattle coach Anne Donovan said. "We have one opinion that says it's not broken, but that's based on the first opinion. I've got to tell you that I have total confidence that Sue is going to play -- broken or not. Sue's going to play and she's going to play well."

Bird, who averaged 11.4 points and 4.8 assists during the regular season, was hit in the nose by an inadvertent elbow in the final minute Sunday and left the Staples Center court with her bloody face in a towel.

"I wasn't grossed out by it, it's what happens when you get hit like that," Bird said during Monday's practice at Staples Center.

As for Tuesday's game, Bird said she felt fine and was ready to go. She also said she would be wearing her protective facemask -- the one she hates wearing -- throughout the Storm's playoff run.

"Fortunately, I've been on some anti-inflammatories because of other injuries, so it's really been helping my nose," Bird said. "It's not very swollen and it's not very black and blue, so I feel really good. Hopefully we have six more games left in our season and if I can wear the mask for those six games, so be it."

Bird was examined Monday by an ear, nose and throat specialist in nearby Manhattan Beach, according to Jennifer Carroll, the public relations manager for the Storm, who called the injury a contusion.

Bird has broken her nose during games in each of the past two seasons. In 2004, she scored 10 points and had a then-WNBA playoff record 14 assists in a Game 3 victory to eliminate Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs, less than 24 hours after surgery to reposition the broken nose. The Storm won the WNBA title the following week.

"Fortunately, we travel with her mask just in case," Donovan said Sunday.

Following Sunday's game, she was taken to Centinela Hospital Medical Center in Inglewood, where she had a CT scan.

The Sparks won Sunday 78-70 after losing the opener in the best-of-three series 84-72 Friday night in Seattle. L.A. hosts Game 3 at 10 p.m. ET Tuesday (ESPN2).

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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