DENVER -- Sitting with his left ankle immersed in a janitor's mop bucket filled with ice, Jermaine O'Neal didn't look the part of a starting centre tonight.
But he's going to give it a try against the Nuggets after missing the past three games.
O'Neal had originally suffered a strain to his surgically repaired left knee against the New Jersey Nets on Nov. 21, rushed his comeback less than 48 hours later against the Boston Celtics, hurt the ankle on the same leg and has been out ever since.
He was able to practice with little pain on Monday at UCLA and iced the ankle as a precaution after today's shootaround at the Pepsi Center.
"I had a really good practice (Monday) and felt more in control making moves," O'Neal said. "It's not 100%, but it's good enough to be effective and help the team. You try to be a little bit smarter as you get older. You want to make the best decisions to help the team and not make an emotional one."
By sitting tonight, O'Neal could have gained three more days rest until the next game against Utah.
"It's a great measuring stick for me to come out, try to play and get two days (to rest)," he said. "Every day has got better for me. I don't want to go into Utah without the game time action. I think I'll be fine."