The nightly suspense of whether Josh Howard will or won't play is over. The small forward is out indefinitely, unable to shake the swelling and soreness in his sprained left ankle. He'll start wearing a boot and is out until further notice. Coach Rick Carlisle declined to speculate on how much longer Howard will miss.
Tonight will be his ninth consecutive game in street clothes.
"He's made progress, but he isn't there yet, so we're going to shut him down for a little bit," Carlisle said. "When there's an update, we'll let you know."
Carlisle said there's a "yo-yo effect" where Howard will get treatment, rest and start to feel good. Then he'll practice and the ankle will swell and ache to the point where he can't play.
"You're talking about a dynamic athlete who needs to be up to near full capacity physically to be able to do the things that he does," Carlisle said. "You can't put him out there unless he's pain-free and swelling-free. Right now, he is not."
There's a second player now wearing a boot: Jerry Stackhouse. His right ankle has kept him out since mid-November. Carlisle said he's not close to playing. Stackhouse also wants to be traded.
On a positive note, shooting guard Antoine Wright will play tonight after three games nursing a groin strain. He'll come off the bench as J.J. Barea earns another start.
-- Jeff Caplan