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Pacers' O'Neal Vows to Play

May 21, 2004|From Associated Press

Jermaine O'Neal sat out the Indiana Pacers' practice Thursday to rest his injured left eye, though he plans to play in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday.

O'Neal watched practice in sunglasses and was scheduled to visit an eye doctor.

"There's no way I'm not going to play Saturday," O'Neal said.

His eye was injured on perhaps his biggest play of Tuesday's series-clinching win over Miami in Game 6.

With the Pacers clinging to a four-point lead with about one minute to play, O'Neal emphatically blocked a dunk attempt by Miami's Caron Butler. Butler inadvertently poked O'Neal in the eye on the play.

O'Neal's eye was still puffy and red on Thursday, but he said he was feeling much better and would wear tinted goggles in Saturday's Game 1 if necessary.

Forward Jonathan Bender also missed practice with what Pacer Coach Rick Carlisle said was an injured foot.

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