The Phoenix Suns have only played nine games so far this year, but guard Goran Dragic has already had enough bad luck and injuries to last awhile.
After missing three games with an ankle injury, Dragic returned to the court Sunday night against New Orleans and was back in the starting lineup Wednesday night against Portland. He didn't finish the game.
With just under nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter while hustling after a loose ball, Dragic collided head-first with Portland's Mo Williams. The impact caused a gash over Dragic's left eye that required 13 stitches to close.
The fifth-year veteran was back at practice Thursday, and despite looking like he just went 12 rounds with Apollo Creed, said he'll play Friday night when the Suns entertain the Brooklyn Nets at US Airways Center.
"Yeah, I'm playing," Dragic said. "I've already used all my sick days, I mean hopefully this is the end of those days."
Dragic has been effective when he's been on the court for the Suns, who are off to a 5-3 start. The Slovenian native is averaging 13.4 points and four assists per game while shooting over 45 percent from the floor. He received assurance that the considerable swelling would subside in time for Friday's contest.
"I was concerned a little bit before practice, when I came out, it was closed, I couldn't see," he said. "But now I put ice on my eye for the whole practice, and it's better, I can see now.
"(Suns athletic trainer Aaron Nelson) told me I have to put ice on it every hour, so (Friday) it will be much better."
Wednesday night's collision wasn't even the first of the season for Dragic. Against Utah November 1, he and teammate P.J. Tucker collided in mid-air while trying to steal a long pass near the halfcourt stripe. He suffered a facial bruise on the play.
"I don't know what's going on," Dragic said with a smile about his run of bad on-court luck. "Feels like somebody cursed me or something like that. But that's part of basketball, part of this sport. I was pretty healthy for five years, so I don't know.
"The only thing I wish is that this is the last injury of the season."