Washington Mystics forward Chamique Holdsclaw said yesterday that her broken left index finger will not keep her out for three weeks as originally expected and that she hopes to return in a week to 10 days.

Holdsclaw broke the finger during the WNBA All-Star Game in New York Wednesday night when she caught a pass awkwardly. She will miss tonight's game against the Detroit Shock at MCI Center; the Mystics play at Charlotte Saturday and have three games next week.

Mystics Coach Nancy Darsch said Holdsclaw will be evaluated day-to-day. Holdsclaw's finger was examined in New York and fitted with a brace Wednesday night. X-rays in New York revealed the fracture, which is about a quarter-inch above her knuckle, but no new tests have been administered.

"There isn't any special time frame or any special solution," Darsch said. "The key is that we evaluate it on a day-to-day basis, and see how it feels. The first 48 hours, the first three days, those will be key. We'll see how she handles any kind of catching or dribbling from there."

Holdsclaw said she woke up yesterday in such pain that she took four pain-relief pills to quell the aching. When asked if she could play tonight if needed, she said, "No I couldn't."

"It still really hurts," Holdsclaw said. "I couldn't move it today. I'd say a week or so. . . . I don't need any more X-rays. The [team doctor in New York] is a laser-hand specialist with the Knicks. If she's good enough for Patrick Ewing, she's good enough for me. . . . I'll just see how it goes; it's really day-to-day."

Guard Markita Aldridge will replace Holdsclaw in the starting lineup against Detroit (6-8) and guard Nikki McCray will shift to Holdsclaw's forward position. McCray, usually an outside shooter who penetrates to find the open player, will have to adjust her role.

Holdsclaw is third in the league in rebounding, averaging 8.9 per game. She also is among the league leaders in points per game (fourth at 18.5) and minutes per game (second at 36.1).

"We don't have a [small forward] right now," Darsch said. "It's going to be a challenge. But I think we have people that can certainly step up. It's going to change things a little bit. . . . I think everybody can do a little bit extra. Rebounding is going to be a big thing, especially late in games when Chamique was in there dominating the boards."

The Mystics (5-9) enter tonight's game having won two in a row for the first time in franchise history. Holdsclaw, who with McCray has become a team leader, has shown her versatility with her ability to lead a fast break or fight for rebounds under the basket.

"We were just getting on a roll here, and now we have another piece of adversity to face," Darsch said. "But you know, that's life. You try to come up with solutions. There's no point to adding to the problem. . . . It's [Holdsclaw] and the athletic staff working together from here. They're the ones who have to come to some solution. She has to know the pain level that she's experiencing and whether it's something that she can deal with."

Mystics Notes: Forward Heather Owen, who has been on the injured list since the beginning of the season with a shoulder injury, was activated after practicing with the team yesterday. Guard Penny Moore was placed on the injured list after an MRI exam revealed a shoulder injury. . . .

Center Valerie Still and recently acquired center Nyree Roberts may get more playing time because the Mystics will use a larger lineup with Holdsclaw out. Roberts was acquired in a trade last week with Houston and has yet to play for the Mystics. "She is ready physically, but as far as comfort zone, she's still learning, as is Val," Darsch said. "But they're going to be thrown into it."

Data: vs. Detroit Shock.

Where: MCI Center.

When: 7 p.m.

Tickets: Available.

Radio: WGAY-1260.

Records: Mystics 5-9; Shock 6-8.

Injuries: Mystics F Chamique Holdsclaw (left finger) is out. F Penny Moore (shoulder) is on the injured list. The Shock reported no injuries.