LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After Miami Heat forward Derrick Jones Jr. needed to be immobilized and stretchered off the court after falling violently to the floor in a collision with Indiana Pacers center Goga Bitadze in the third quarter of Indiana's 109-92 victory Friday afternoon, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra expressed optimism about Jones' status.
"He's already moving better," Spoelstra said after the game, which was followed by the Heat announcing via Twitter that after an MRI, CT scan and concussion test, Jones has been diagnosed with a neck strain.
ESPN's Rachel Nichols reported after the game that Jones was not reporting numbness in his extremities and the Heat said Jones would be reevaluated over the weekend.
Jones was chasing Pacers forward Doug McDermott and tried to go around a screen by Bitadze, Indiana's rookie backup center, when the two collided and Jones sprawled to the ground on his stomach.
"He got jarred in the shoulder, neck area," Spoelstra said. "Obviously a little bit more than a stinger."
Jones was moving his legs but stayed down for several minutes and made no attempt to get up as he was tended to by Miami's medical staff. Eventually both teams gathered around Jones while he was being immobilized and moved onto a stretcher, and then clapped for him as he was eventually wheeled off the court. Shortly after Jones left the court, Heat All-Star Bam Adebayo -- one of several veterans on each team not playing in Friday's game, the final one for both teams here inside the NBA bubble in the seeding games portion of the schedule -- jogged off the court after him.
After the play occurred, Spoelstra took a timeout in order to settle down his team and get his players back focused on the game to finish out the final quarter-plus of action.
Both Spoelstra and Pacers coach Nate McMillan expressed the same sentiment -- that it was an unfortunate play, and one no one on either side wanted anyone to experience.
"We thought it was a solid screen," McMillan told Nichols between quarters. "We thought he got his neck caught up in Goga's shoulder. You never want to see something like that. ... We hope he's okay."
"We want to be competitive, but we're together, we're unified as a league. You never want to see someone go down with an injury like that. ... In a game like this where you're trying to get ready for the playoffs, you want to come out of this game without any injuries."
Jones, 23, entered Friday's game averaging 8.6 points and 4.0 rebounds per game across 59 games (16 starts) this season, shooting 52.7%. He had 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals in 16 minutes before leaving Friday's game.
One of the league's most athletic players -- and perhaps its best leaper -- Jones will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Miami and Indiana will see each other again soon -- Tuesday, to be precise, when the Heat and Pacers begin their first-round playoff series. Typically, Friday's game would have had far more meaning, as Miami and Indiana entered the game tied in the standings, with the winner getting the fourth seed -- and, with it, homecourt advantage -- in their upcoming series.
But because both teams are inside the NBA's bubble at Walt Disney World Resort, where homecourt advantage only comes in the form of the team's familiar in-arena sounds and pictures on the video boards surrounding the arena, neither team pushed hard to win Friday's game.