They are the players that set the tone. From start to finish, the players who get their names called under the bright lights and rip off their warm-ups first are there for a reason. To compete and get the team off to a good start.
For the Indiana Pacers, the starting lineup is not getting the job done.
In the six-game losing streak, which increased last night after a 102-91 loss to the Blazers, the starters have been outscored 443-314, an average deficit of 21.5 per game. Seven players have cycled in and out of the starting gig during those six games. The culprits? Let's see the lineup: Danny Granger (five games), T.J. Ford (6), Dahntay Jones (4), Brandon Rush (3), Troy Murphy (6), Roy Hibbert (4) and Jeff Foster (2). The starters were outscored 72-51 last night, and it didn't help that the unit gave up the tied game that the bench climbed back for midway through the fourth. As Tom pointed out during his recap, Brandon Roy probably would have destroyed the bench just as well as he pummeled the starters down the stretch. but the starters were there when the possible win waved bye-bye.
With each game, it's taken an unsung bench player to keep the Pacers within striking distance and keep hope alive. It was rookies Tyler Hansbrough and A.J. Price last night. On other nights, Earl Watson and Mike Dunleavy have stepped up.
Coach Jim O'Brien commended his second unit after Thursday's loss: "I thought they played with a great deal of energy and gave us good tempo. I thought A.J. (Price) did a real good job for us. He's played at a very high level in practice and he's a very mature user of the pick and roll and he's a guy that can shoot the three off the pick and roll."
It's very difficult, as we've seen, to win in the NBA when your starters are treated by opponents like a JV squad and your bench is spending all of its energy trying to claw back into a hopeless game. For the starters, a possible quick cure is arriving at Conseco "Reggie Miller" Fieldhouse on Friday -- the Nets. More links after the jump.
- AP Story
- Box Score
- Photo Gallery
- NBA.com Recap
- Pacers.com dishes out the quotes and +/- in the latest Inside the Game edition. We'll let guard Dahntay Jones explain this one: "We had a problem with the pick and roll and did not defend very well against it. Couldn't stop it. We've go to learn to finish the ball game a little better. So it's back to the drawing board and get this thing turned around. Losing is not fun." Jones scored a team-high 19 points, but only put two through the hoop in the final 18 minutes of play.
- Mike Wells recaps the game as he notes that the Pacers are definitely one All-Star short of competing with the likes of Brandon Roy and the Blazers.
- IndyStar columnist Bob Kravitz says that Danny Granger's injury has given the greenlight for Brandon Rush and that we'll know now if he's a bust or not. Kravitz extended his streak of mentioning Shawne Williams in a Pacers-related column to a career-high 25 consecutive pieces.
- John Oehser covered the game for his Examiner page.
- Here are some previews to the Blazers-Pacers matchup that were posted yesterday: Eight Points, Nine Seconds and Always Miller Time.
- Wells posted on his Pacers Insider page about the great game for rookie A.J. Price.
- SB Nation's Blazers Edge had the game covered from the enemy's perspective. Rip City Project also chimed in with a recap and Jason Quick covered the game for The Oregonian.
- And as the Pacers continue to increase their chances of getting lucky in the lottery, check out the recap of John Wall's performance against UConn last night. Oh yeah, we're already there.