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Starters Continue To Get Outplayed, Outscored During Losing Streak

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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.