by Conrad Brunner
November 24, 2001
SUNDAY NIGHT'S MATCHUP
By Conrad Brunner
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Pacers (8-7) at Seattle (6-8)
Sunday, Nov. 25 p.m.
RADIO: WIBC-1070 AM
Reggie Miller is on pace to reach a major career milestone in this game, as he is 16 points away from moving past Hal Greer (21,586) into 20th place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Miller, who has 21,571 points, is averaging 16.8 points per game this season. Next on Miller's list at No. 19 is none other than Larry Bird (21,791). At his current pace, Miller would catch Bird on Dec. 21 against New Jersey at Conseco Fieldhouse. Though Miller has accepted a secondary role in the offense at age 36, perhaps he should assert himself a little more. Five teammates shoot with more per-minute frequency than Miller - Jalen Rose, Jermaine O'Neal, Jonathan Bender, Al Harrington and Jamaal Tinsley. The Sonics have played a tough early schedule comparable to that of the Pacers and are showing signs of coming around with victories in two of their last three games. Gary Payton remains the main man, leading the team in scoring (23.8) and assists (9.1), but young Rashard Lewis is continuing to blossom into a star, averaging 15.6 points and 8.9 rebounds in his fourth season. Seattle could get a boost from the possible return of Vin Baker, who has been on the injured list with a left knee bruise, but is eligible to be activated and has been working out with the team.
Miller has hit 50 percent of his 3-point attempts (24 of 48) over the last 10 games, and is shooting 61 percent (25 of 41) from the floor in the last four. ... Austin Croshere appears to be regaining his stride, emerging from a lengthy shooting slump by hitting 50 percent (12 of 24) and averaging 7.8 points in the last four games. ... Jeff Foster ranks third in the league with 53 offensive rebounds. ... Jamaal Tinsley is sixth in assists (8.6) and 11th in steals (1.93). ... Jermaine O'Neal is 10th in rebounding (9.4) and eighth in blocked shots (2.41). ... Jalen Rose is 16th in scoring (22.1).
In four games before suffering a knee bruise that put him on the injured list, Baker averaged 21.8 points and 8.5 rebounds. ... Brent Barry needs two points to reach 4,000 for his career. ... Lewis already has seven double-doubles after recording eight all of last season. ... Payton ranks 10th in the NBA in scoring (23.8) and fourth in assists (9.1).
Rose is averaging 16.8 points on .417 shooting (30 of 72) in the last four games. ... Foster had a string of seven consecutive double-figure rebounding games snapped with just three against the Spurs. ...Al Harrington has averaged 6.3 points and 5.5 rebounds while shooting 28 percent (11 of 39) in the last four games. ... Jonathan Bender has shot 23 percent (seven of 30) in the last seven games.
Lewis has shot 39 percent (14 of 36) and averaged just 10.7 points in the last three games. ... Payton averages 3.2 turnovers per game. ... The Sonics rank 24th in the league in rebound percentage (.483) and 21st in blocked shots (55).
Point Guard -
Even with his off game against the Spurs (four points, six assists), Jamaal Tinsley had a remarkable week, averaging 18.4 points, 11.8 assists, 7.8 rebounds and 2.80 steals in five games from Nov. 16-23. The rookie faces the first of two major tests on this road trip in Seattle, where he will face one of the best in the game in Payton. He didn't play particularly well against the Pacers in splitting last season's series (shooting 39 percent), but Payton is playing with renewed vigor this year and is showing, once again, the ability to dominate games from the backcourt.
F-C Carlos Rogers (flu) is day-to-day; G Travis Best (hamstring) and G Norm Richardson (ankle) are on the injured list.
F Vin Baker (knee) and C Jerome James (foot) are on the injured list.