BOSTON -- Boston Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal left Friday night's 110-86 win against the Utah Jazz with a sore right hip, and Celtics coach Doc Rivers suggested he might need to sit out a couple games to heal.
O'Neal played six minutes in the first quarter, with one basket, one assist and one steal. He told Rivers early on that his hip wasn't feeling well and appeared to motion to the bench to be subbed out after converting a breakaway dunk with 6:01 to play in the frame.
Before that, O'Neal had spilled into the front row chasing a loose ball -- he wound up giving the fan a hug, to the crowd's delight -- but Rivers said that didn't play any part in the injury.
"He told me, I think three minutes into the game, he actually walked over to me and said, 'Hey, I don't know how long I can go. I'm feeling pretty bad,'" Rivers said. "And I said, 'Do you want me to take you out?' He said, 'No, let me go and see how long I can go.'
"We're probably not going to take him on the trip [to Washington for Saturday's game against the Wizards]. I think it's his hip; something locked up. So we'll just have to see how long that will be."
O'Neal spent the remainder of the first half on the bench, but with the Celtics up 18 at the intermission, he did not return to the court for the second half. While departing the arena, he said he was " all right" but didn't elaborate on his condition. He did not walk with any noticeable limp or pain due to the injury.
The 38-year-old former NBA MVP sat out a week in November with a bruised right knee and a week in December with a right calf injury and has missed a total of nine games this season.
Boston is already playing without Jermaine O'Neal (sore left knee) and Kendrick Perkins (right ACL tear). Rookie Semih Erden took O'Neal's place with the starters at the start of the second half and would likely be Boston's starting center moving forward in order to keep Glen Davis in the sixth man role that he's thrived in.
Erden made all five shots he attempted Friday, scoring a career-high 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds over 29 minutes.
"[Erden] was just -- he was physical, he played hard. Again, when Semih just plays hard and does his job, he helps us. And you know sometimes sitting down a little bit reminds him of that. Reminds you that you want to play. And he's doing that. And we're going to need him probably in the next couple games."
Chris Forsberg covers the Celtics for ESPNBoston.com.