OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -New Orleans Hornets forward Desmond Mason will need surgery for his broken nose and will miss the rest of the regular season.
If the Hornets make the playoffs, Mason could return, general manager Jeff Bower said. Going into Friday night's home game against Phoenix in Oklahoma City, the Hornets trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 2 1/2 games for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
``Our focus continues to be making the playoffs,'' Bower said. ``If we accomplish that goal, we are hopeful that he would be able to rejoin us and provide us with the same leadership and tenacity that made him such a valuable part of our team this season.''
Mason has averaged 13.7 points and 4.6 rebounds while starting all 75 of the team's games this season.
He took an inadvertent elbow to the face from Seattle's Chris Wilcox during a 102-93 overtime victory Wednesday night. The blow fractured Mason's cheek and nose.
The Hornets said Thursday the cheek would not require surgery, but doctors were unsure about the nose. On Friday, the team said surgery was necessary to repair his deviated septum.

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