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Bird to wear mask over bruised, but not broken nose

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.

"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.