As a player, Pacers guard Lance Stephenson is nothing if not audacious. That bold streak has largely worked to his (and the Pacers') benefit this season, but on Tuesday night Stephenson's daring played a part in a frightening fall and subsequent injury.
In the third quarter of Tuesday's game against the Hawks, Stephenson launched from the free throw circle in an attempt to score over two Atlanta defenders. That he miraculously did, though the joy was sucked from his circus shot when Stephenson flew across the court and landed directly on his back and neck. From the camera angles available, the fall seems only to be a perfect storm of unfortunate factors. Stephenson's characteristic abandon unquestionably played a role, as few players would even attempt to score in such a manner with two defenders in front of them. Atlanta's Kyle Korver, though, does appear to push an airborne Stephenson at the waist, while Stephenson's orientation to the floor is altered by then colliding with Paul Millsap.
There's doesn't appear to be much malicious intent on the play, but there's some carelessness on the part of both Stephenson and Korver. Fortunately, Stephenson's injury doesn't initially appear to be serious. He took his time with Pacers players and staff to assess the physical fallout, but ultimately came back on the court to shoot his free throw and play out the next four minutes of game action. At that point Stephenson exited the game for good to receive treatment on his back, though after the game Stephenson told Scott Horner of the Indianapolis Star he was fine:
After the game, while limping toward the trainer's room, Stephenson said, "I feel good."
Considering how hard Stephenson fell on both his back and neck, that's an incredible relief. There isn't yet any update on when Stephenson might again be available, but the Pacers have both Wednesday and Thursday off before playing the Trail Blazers