I guess Samuel Dalembert's sprained left ankle in the second period of the 76ers' victory over the washington Wizards last night wasn't nearly as severe as it looked.
I say ''I guess'' because we won't really know until Dalembert steps on the court tonight against the New Jersey Nets. But the idea that Dal;embert is playing comes as something of a surprise, because when he went down with 1:54 remaining in the first half last night, he was unable to get up or walk to the locker-room without assistance.
He said he stepped on the foot of Wizards rookie big man JaVale McGee and felt the ankle twist.
"I thought it was a fracture,'' he said. "As soon as I tried to walk on it, my foot started shaking.''
Even worse, because he went down in the paint, he ended up being called for a three-second violation.
"I went down, I screamed,'' Dalembert said. ''He (the referee) saw me holding my leg and he still made the call. I must be the only one in history to get a three-second call getting hurt in the middle of the paint.''
X-rays last night were negative, and there was no request for a magnetic resonance imaging scan. Dalembert took treatment all day, including time in the hyperbaric chyamber he has had installed in his house. At 6 p.m., when the Sixers were required to announce a lineup and an active roster, Dalembert was pencilled in as the starting center.
\This is his 236th consecutive appearance, including having appeared in all 82 regular-season gameas the previous two seasons.
"i'm going to be honest,'' he said. ''I'm going to go out and give 100 percent, but I'll be honest with the coach.''
Sixers coach Tony DiLeo said ''I am surprised, yes, (that Dalembert is playing), because last night when he went down it looked pretty bad. K.J. (athletic trainer Kevin Johnson) said treatment was OK today, but it was bad. It's not so much swollen, but I guess (the problem is) tenderness in the ankle.''
After last night's game, DiLeo said he would use Elton Brand as the startring center tonight if Dalembert were unavailable. But before last night's game, DiLeo would only say ''We have alternative plans.''