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 INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -Pacers forward Jermaine O'Neal will miss at least two weeks with a bruised left knee, team officials said Saturday before the Pacers played Sacramento.
A MRI on Thursday afternoon revealed the injury.
Earlier this week, O'Neal said he was not fully healed from knee surgery to repair torn meniscus cartilage last April. He said he was surprised the healing process has been so slow.
O'Neal said he had pain during Wednesday's practice, but he started that night against Golden State. He left the game with 2:58 left in the first quarter after going scoreless and committing four turnovers in the first 9 minutes.
O'Neal spoke with team doctors and trainers, and after a strength test, the decision was made to sit him the rest of the game.
Pacers coach Jim O'Brien wasn't sure the new injury was connected to the surgery.
``I think it's related to the fact that he has hyperextended his knee a couple times this year,'' he said.
O'Neal is a six-time All-Star who averaged 19.4 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks last season, but including Saturday's game, he has missed 90 games the past 3 1/2 seasons due to injuries, illnesses and suspensions.
``We have some experience in being without Jermaine,'' O'Brien said. ``You hate to see any player go down for an extended period of time, but you just have to deal with it.''
O'Neal is averaging 15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.2 blocks this season, but he has missed eight games, many because the knee has been unpredictable.
``I'm in a position where one week it'll be fine and the next week, it'll be really swollen,'' he said. ``When you have fluid in your knee, it tends to affect where your knee moves, and it tends to irritate a lot of things.''
O'Neal spoke with Golden State guard Baron Davis about his knee on Wednesday. Davis had surgery to repair torn cartilage in his left knee while playing for New Orleans in January 2003, then had surgery on the same knee to remove debris last February.
``One of his first things was, 'You probably should not play anymore, you probably should just get it totally healthy,''' O'Neal said.
O'Brien said O'Neal's minutes will be split between Jeff Foster, Troy Murphy, Ike Diogu and David Harrison. None of them provide O'Neal's low-post presence on offense or his ability to cover his teammates' mistakes on defense.
``It's tough when you lose your main inside force,'' guard Kareem Rush said. ``He's a guy you look to to get baskets, and to anchor our defense. It's up to other guys to step up and, not try to replace him, so to speak, but to just try to go out there and fill the void and do some positive things.''
Point guard Jamaal Tinsley said O'Neal's intangibles are as important as his physical skills.
``He's a guy you know is going to take charges and block shots,'' Tinsley said. ``Just his presence on the court - it's going to be a big difference.''
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