NBA.com Daily Confidential

The Indiana Pacers hope a retooled lineup is enough to avoid their longest losing streak of the season.

The four newest Pacers acquired in an eight-player deal with Golden State will make their debut Saturday against the New York Knicks as Indiana opens a four-game homestand.

Troy Murphy, Mike Dunleavy, Ike Diogu and Keith McLeod are expected to be available versus the Knicks after being acquired Wednesday from the Warriors in exchange for Al Harrington, Stephen Jackson, Sarunas Jasikevicius and Josh Powell.

The Pacers (20-19) felt dealing two of their top three scorers - Harrington and Jackson - gave them the best chance at success.

"We gave up some good players but we're getting a lot of good players that we think fit in with what we're trying to do in terms of how we're playing,'' Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We want to fit the right kind of guys around Jermaine O'Neal because he's our franchise player and one of the top players in the league.''

O'Neal thought one of those guys was Harrington, who spent his first six seasons in Indiana and the last two in Atlanta. The Pacers worked hard to get him back in the offseason, but hadn't seen the results they were hoping for.

"Fighting to get him back pretty much all summer then losing him three months into the season was a tough pill to swallow,'' said O'Neal, who is averaging 19.2 points after scoring 20 or more in each of the last four seasons. "But my job is to deal with the guys that we have as long as I'm in a Pacer uniform and make sure the guys that are coming in are comfortable as fast as possible.''

Indiana hopes the adjustment is fast as it is trying to avoid a season-high fourth straight loss. Despite having only 10 players available Thursday, the Pacers put together a 23-9 fourth-quarter run to keep the game close before losing 104-101 to the Miami Heat.

Danny Granger and Marquis Daniels moved into the starting lineup Thursday for the depleted Pacers and responded in a big way. Granger scored a career-high 28 points and Daniels added a season-high 23 for Indiana while O'Neal recoreded a double-double.

None of Indiana's new faces were regular starters for the Warriors, but Carlisle said he likes Dunleavy and Murphy's abilities to shoot from the outside and rebound. He was also optimistic about Diogu's potential.

"One of the key factors was the ability to get Diogu in the deal because he's a young prospect that could be a very good Eastern Conference rotation player for us,'' Carlisle said.

The Pacers are 10-6 at Conseco Fieldhouse, where they play 14 of their next 17 games. Indiana has won 16 of its last 19 home matchups with the Knicks, both games between the teams this season and three straight overall in the series as it tries for its first season sweep of New York in franchise history.

The Knicks (17-24) are coming off back-to-back one-point losses, including a 101-100 defeat to the New Jersey Nets on Friday when Clifford Robinson tipped in a missed shot with 2.8 seconds left.

"There's been very few games when we haven't been in it at the end,'' said reserve David Lee whose basket gave New York a one-point lead with 9.7 seconds remaining before Robinson's game-winner. "Up until the last two we've been doing a tremendous job being on the winning end of games like that. We played two very, very good teams, and we've been about 5 or 6 seconds away from having won two in a row.''

The Knicks have scored 100 or more points in five of their last six games. Quentin Richardson had 24 points and nine rebounds Friday while Stephon Marbury had 23 points, including 10 in the final three minutes to help New York erase a 12-point deficit.

Marbury has struggled versus the Pacers this season, though, averaging just 5.0 points on 20.0 percent shooting (3-for-15). Richardson is averaging 20.4 points in five games since being sidelined nearly a month with back spasms, a bump from his 14.4 season average.


Copyright 2006 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited