Indiana forward Jermaine O'Neal will go before a federal judge today to see if he can continue playing for the Pacers. O'Neal said he would be accepting of a ruling that would...

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Indiana forward Jermaine O’Neal will go before a federal judge today to see if he can continue playing for the Pacers.

O’Neal said he would be accepting of a ruling that would send him back to the suspended list.

“I got to,” O’Neal said last night. “It will be hard. I’ll be disappointed, but I’ll put it in God’s hands. I’ve got a lot of faith.”

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Originally suspended by NBA commissioner David Stern for 25 games for fighting with fans during the Nov. 19 Pacers-Pistons brawl, an arbitrator reduced the ban to 15 games. The NBA then challenged arbitrator Roger Kaplan’s authority to hear O’Neal’s grievance, and a federal judge temporarily upheld Kaplan’s ruling last week, allowing O’Neal to play.

Both sides will be back in court today in New York, where Judge George B. Daniels will consider the merits of the NBA’s lawsuit and whether O’Neal will serve the remaining 10 games of his suspension.

Pacers coach Rick Carlisle was reluctant to discuss today’s hearing.

“I’m dealing in certainties and the certainty is he’s here tonight,” Carlisle said. “Tomorrow is another day. Right now, tomorrow seems like light years away.”

Carlisle praised O’Neal for the way he handled himself during the suspension, and for staying in shape while he was away from the team.

“He’s dealt with it with unbelievable dignity and integrity. It hurt him very deeply,” Carlisle said. “It’s been tough for him, but he’s dealt with it with real class.”

Jackson doesn’t report; Hornets suspend him

NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Hornets suspended Jim Jackson indefinitely for not reporting to the team, two days after he was acquired from Houston in a trade.

Hornets coach Byron Scott suspected Jackson would not show up as scheduled after speaking with him by phone shortly after the trade brought the 13-year veteran to the worst team in the league. By suspending Jackson, the Hornets do not have to pay him. Jackson also could be fined by the league under the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement.

Jackson, who plays guard and forward, was acquired from the Rockets along with forward Bostjan Nachbar for guard David Wesley.


* The Bobcats activated center Jahidi White and placed forward Jamal Sampson on the injured list. White went on the injured list Dec. 4 with a shoulder injury. Sampson sprained his ankle in Monday night’s loss at Washington.

* Rockets guard Charlie Ward will miss at least six weeks after having surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. Ward, 34, had a procedure to repair a torn lateral meniscus. Losing Ward will hurt Houston, with no true point guards on its roster.