Pacers, Trail Blazers Look to Get Back in Win Column
Posted Nov 28 2006 12:28PM
NBA.com Daily Confidential
The Indiana Pacers didn't get off to a good start in their longest road trip of the season. They hope a matchup against the injury-plagued Portland Trail Blazers on Tuesday will help them bounce back.
Indiana (7-7) began a six-game road swing on Sunday with a 92-83 loss to the Toronto Raptors, who own one of the league's worst records. Danny Grangerand Stephen Jackson scored 18 points to lead the Pacers, who shot a season-low 37.2 percent from the field.
Indiana never led, trailing by 15 at the end of the first quarter before Toronto's 14-2 run at the start of the second essentially put the game out of reach. The Pacers have trailed at the end of the first quarter in 11 of 14 games this season, including in five of the team's six wins.
``We have a terrible way of starting off games,'' Jackson said. ``It has been real contagious right now. It is hard to beat any team, whether it is the Raptors or not.''
Because of the team's starts, coach Rick Carlisle has shuffled his lineup. Despite not getting the results he hoped for, Carlisle would not rule out the possibility of more changes.
``It's hard digging out of a 15-point hole with 36 minutes to play,'' he said. ``It's something that we have addressed. We've done a lot of lineup shifting. Maybe there will be more lineup shifting, I don't know, but these kind of starts are going to get you beat on a consistent basis.''
It hasn't helped that the Pacers have been one of the league's worst shooting teams at 41.9 percent. They've been held below that mark in each of the last three games.
``Offensively, we miss shots and tend to worry about it on the defensive end, and against good teams, you can't worry about missed shots,'' point guard Jamaal Tinsley said. ``You have to bunker down and play defense and let the offense take care of itself.''
Among the Pacers struggling offensively is Al Harrington, who was the team's top scorer at 19.2 points per game before averaging 8.0 over the past four games while shooting 29 percent (14-of-48).
Indiana also visits Golden State, Seattle, Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers on this road trip.
The Pacers hope facing an opponent they have dominated recently can help get them on track. They have won the past five meetings with Portland (6-9), and swept last season's two-game series by a combined 52 points.
The Trail Blazers have dropped seven of nine overall, including Sunday's 119-101 loss to the Phoenix Suns. Six Portland players scored in double figures, led by reserve Travis Outlaw's 22 points.
The Blazers are struggling without rookie Brandon Roy (heel), center Joel Przybilla (groin) and forward Raef LaFrentz (calf). Przybilla is expected to return to practice this week, but the team suffered another blow Sunday when leading scorer Zach Randolph left late in the third quarter with knee trouble and did not return.
``They took a lot of life and energy out of us,'' Randolph said. ``Yeah, I was frustrated. We need to keep playing and keep focused.''
Like Randolph, Blazers rookie LaMarcus Aldridge hopes to play Tuesday despite an early departure from Sunday's loss. The No. 2 overall pick was hit in the lip and needed five stitches.
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