Daily Confidential

The Indiana Pacers are coming off their worst loss of the season and Stephen Jackson isn't making the situation any easier.

It's uncertain if Jackson will be in the lineup Monday when the Pacers play the Chicago Bulls at the United Center.

The volatile swingman was kicked off the bench by coach Rick Carlisle during the second quarter of Indiana's 107-75 loss at Cleveland on Saturday.

Jackson had words with Carlisle after being replaced, was sent to the locker room by his coach and did not return. Jackson, who totaled 51 points in his previous two games, had four points in 14 minutes Saturday.

``I substituted for him,' Carlisle said. ``He came to the bench and an exchange ensued that I thought was inappropriate and detrimental to the team. So I made a decision to remove him from the bench.

``These games are difficult. If you don't have everybody with a laser-like focus on one task, which is playing like a team and competing hard, it gets even more difficult.''

Jackson declined to comment after the game.

``No,'' Jackson said. ``I'm cool.''

Saturday was another ugly episode in Jackson's seven-year career. He is facing charges of firing a gun outside an Indianapolis strip club in October. Two seasons ago, he fought with Detroit fans in the infamous brawl at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Carlisle was not specific regarding the status of Jackson, who is off to a mediocre start this season with 12.3 points per game while shooting 38.4 percent from the field.

``As of right now, this is a one-game situation and if that changes I'll let you know,'' Carlisle said. ``I expect this is an incident that's isolated and will be dealt with as such.''

With star Jermaine O'Neal facing the possibility of missing his third straight game with a sore left hamstring, the Pacers (11-11) can't afford to be short-handed as they try to avoid a fifth consecutive road loss Monday. O'Neal is averaging 17.8 points and 9.9 rebounds.

``We need to approach (Chicago) with a complete team commitment, that's no different than every other night,'' Carlisle said. ``That's what I expect and that's how we'll approach it.''

On Saturday, Indiana scored its fewest points of the season, shot a season-low 32.5 percent and was outrebounded 57-34. In their previous two games - home wins over Orlando and Portland - the Pacers averaged 101.0 points while shooting 48.7 percent and posting a plus-18 rebounding margin.

Indiana's Al Harrington was held well below his team-leading average of 16.9 points, scoring eight on 3-of-13 shooting.

Chicago (10-10) had its seven-game winning streak snapped in a 91-81 home loss to Minnesota on Saturday. The Bulls shot 39.5 percent - their worst performance from the field in 10 games - while falling to 7-2 at home.

The Bulls had been playing at a high level recently, but never were in rhythm and trailed by 13 at halftime.

``The guys showed a lot of heart tonight,'' said center Ben Wallace, who grabbed 11 rebounds for the second straight game. ``But it's too bad, because sometimes heart isn't enough in this game.''

Ben Gordon led the Bulls with 21 points, but remains inconsistent. He's scored more than 20 points in four of his past seven games, but in the other three, he's averaged 13.3 points on 12-for-35 shooting (34.3 percent).

Gordon was held to three points in the first meeting of the season with Indiana, but Kirk Hinrich scored 23, Luol Deng added 21 with 12 rebounds and Wallace had a season-high 18 boards in Chicago's 88-80 comeback win on Nov. 11.

It was the Bulls seventh win in their last nine home games against the Pacers.

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