by Conrad Brunner
November 13, 2001
INDIANAPOLIS, November 13, 2001 - Jermaine O'Neal, the Pacers' primary inside presence on both offense and defense, will not play in tonight's game against the New Jersey Nets due to a bruised lower back.
Al Harrington was expected to start in O'Neal's place at power forward.
"We'll stick with our gameplan," said coach Isiah Thomas. "We'll try to execute offensively and defensively and do what we normally do."
O'Neal, who missed just one game last season with a strained groin, did not injure the back on any specific play. Rather, it is a matter of accumulated wear and tear in the early going.
"Being young, he's taken a couple of shots down there that, if he was older, they probably wouldn't do to him," Thomas said. "But that's the price of being young."
O'Neal, who is averaging 17.9 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.75 blocked shots, will travel with the team to Boston for Wednesday night's game, though his status is uncertain.
"Injuries are part of the game," Thomas said. "Very rarely does a player play 82 games. As a coach, you deal with it when the time comes."