Bender Back on I.L., Pollard Out, Artest Hurting

by Conrad Brunner

Jan. 24, 2004

Injuries and illness forced a shakeup on the Pacers' roster and in the rotations on Friday, roughly 90 minutes before the team tipped off against the Houston Rockets in Conseco Fieldhouse.

Jonathan Bender returned to the injured list, while Scot Pollard was expected to miss the next two games. Ron Artest originally was ruled out of the Houston game but decided 30 minutes before tipoff that he would indeed play.

Bender's comeback took a detour, as the forward was returned to the injured list with chronic post-operative soreness in his left knee. Bender underwent surgery the day training camp opened and returned to action Jan. 14 against Atlanta. But after playing 33 minutes in three games spanning four nights, soreness in the knee returned and he sat out the next two games. It appears Bender won't attempt to return again until after the All-Star break.

"He didn't suffer any further damage to his knee," Carlisle said. "It's typical stuff that happens when guys get back on the court."

Replacing Bender on the active roster is center Primoz Brezec. Though veteran point guard Kenny Anderson has declared himself fully healthy and ready to return, coach Rick Carlisle said Brezec was activated because the Pacers would need another big body in the absence of Pollard, who has the flu and won't travel with the team to Washington for Saturday night's game.

Artest suffered a sprained left thumb against New Jersey on Jan. 17. Though he finished that game and played the next two, he struggled badly with his shot (going 17 of 50 in the three games). He will travel with the team to Washington, then is considering a trip to New York on Sunday to consult with a physician who operated on his left thumb when it was injured while he was at St. John's University.