Stephenson didn’t practice, day-to-day ahead of facing Portland
Lance Stephenson may miss just his second game of the season Friday night when the Portland Trail Blazers are in town. Stephenson didn’t practice on Thursday and said he’s dealing with a lot of pain after an awkward landing during Pacers’ win on Tuesday in Atlanta.
“He’s day-to-day,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said after Thursday’s practice. “There’s a chance he plays Friday, but tomorrow we’ll see how he feels.”
Stephenson got the ball in a fast-break situation, and chose to attack early in the second half. He split Atlanta’s Paul Millsap and Kyle Korver, and then took off for a one-handed dunk but was too far out. Stephenson threw the ball up, and somehow it went in before he landed forcefully on his lower back, which he immediately clutched.
“I’m just happy that I landed the way I did because it could’ve went a different way,” Stephenson said.
If he stuck out his arm to brace his fall, he thinks he would’ve broken it. He completed the three-point play at the foul line and played another four minutes before heading to the locker room for the remainder of the game.
“I just tried to do a little flip so I would protect my neck at the same time.”
Center Roy Hibbert, who battles inside but often falls to the floor, understands Lance is in pain but also believes that he’ll be fine.
“He was walking around after the game and joking on the plane,” Hibbert said.
Added teammate Paul George: ”He’s tough. You saw it after the play. He bounced up after a few seconds of collecting himself. He’s tough and he’s going to battle through whatever ache that he has.”
Although Stephenson was held out of practice on Thursday, he shot (and made) 3-pointers and free throws afterwards. He did seem to be in obvious pain and later said certain movements in particularly are hurting him.
“It’s a bruise that just hurts all day,” he explained.
That has made sleeping particularly difficult for the fourth-year guard.
“I couldn’t sleep at all last night,” he said. “I just got to do Yoga right now to try to move and not stay (tight) and try to get ready for the game tomorrow.
“I’m day-to-day, and hopefully tomorrow I can get on that floor and help my team win.”
Pacers Anticipate Bynum’s Arrival on Friday
Baring any travel problems, the Pacers expect Andrew Bynum to join the team Friday for shootaround and be on the bench during their game that night against Portland. This comes seven days after signing the 7-foot big man. The delay, according to Vogel, is because of weather issues delaying his travel and “taking care of personal business with a normal move.”
Just don’t expect to see him on the court anytime soon.
“It’s unlikely that he plays that first week after [All-Star break],” said Vogel. “I would say a few weeks, probably at least two, before we see him in uniform.
“We want to get him in there as soon as we can. There’s factors of being new to a system, A, and the fact he hasn’t played in … five or six weeks. Even if it were one of our own guys, we would want to see him working for a few weeks before he got back out there.”
Bynum has dealt with numerous knee issues and the Pacers’ training staff will immediately get to work on further evaluating his health and setting up a plan for him to make his debut. Conditioning is obviously a big factor, but coach admitted that this move is for the playoffs so they have more than three months to get him prepared.
The plan is for Bynum to speak with the media for the first time after Friday’s shootaround.