Pacers lottery pick Bennedict Mathurin was determined to play all 82-games this season. Only he and Buddy Hield had played in each of the first 67 Pacers games this season.
That streak, however, is expected to end after Mathurin rolled his right ankle when he came down on the foot of the Houston Rockets big man Usman Garuba.
He was attacking the left side of the floor, beat his man and Garbuba came over to help. Mathurin fell down, immediately clutched his right ankle and was very clearly in pain. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle used his third timeout of the quarter so the game could stop and Mathurin could get the attention he needed.
After a few minutes, they got him up and he’s a tough guy, but veterans James Johnson and George Hill carried him off the floor and directly back toward the locker room.
Neither player was available to share their perspective after the game.
Carlisle did not have anything definitive to share on the injury following their 134-125 overtime win, but he does believe Mathurin will miss time.
“Not sure exactly how severe yet, but we’ll know more in the next day or so,” Carlisle said. “… It’s gonna look different out there without Benn — in this game and I certainly don’t believe he’ll play either of the Detroit games. Other guys will have to be ready.”
Mathurin almost certainly received X-rays at Gainbridge Fieldhouse and then will undergo an MRI this weekend for a clearer picture and full determination of the severity. That’s standard protocol.
The injury was similar to the ankle sprain suffered by Chris Duarte early in the season. Opposite basket, but it was early into the game and rolled badly to the outside after landing on another player’s foot.
“Obviously, a scary moment,” Tyrese Haliburton said after finishing with 29 points and a career-high 19 assists. “Don’t want to see your teammates go down like that. I’m not part of the medical staff so I was trying to think what could I do to help. Guys helped him get off the floor. I haven’t heard what’s going on yet, I’ve just seen him in the back. Praying that everything is good with him and he’s healthy for us, but it’s just about trying to regroup and understand it’s the next-man-up mentality.
“Benn brings a lot to the table for us — getting downhill, getting to the free throw line, he does a lot of good things for us.”
Myles Turner did not see the injury occur because he was back in the tunnel staying loose, but he’s seen many teammates go down over his eight seasons with the franchise.
“It’s an unfortunate part of the game,” he said. “For him, he’s been healthy every game this season so I know he’s gonna be a lot harder on himself. Him as a young player, having all this playing time and playing so good, him having to watch is gonna be tough for him. But I also think it’s gonna be good for him being able to evaluate the game and whatnot.
“We’re playing for a quick recovery for him and we got one of the best medical staffs out there so we’ll see him back soon.”
The Pacer (30-37) have only 15 regular-season games remaining, including seven of the next eight on the road. And if it’s a Grade II sprain, like Duarte’s was, it’s possible that Mathurin’s rookie season is over.
The 20-year-old guard is averaging 16.6 points, 4.0 rebounds and 5.7 free throw attempts per game off the bench.
“Just trying to win games and my goal is to play in all 82 games,” Mathurin said on Feb. 22 after returning from All-Star Weekend. “So hopefully I stay healthy enough to play every game. But also trying to win a lot of games and grow as a player as well.
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