Suspension Means Miller Will Miss Next 2 Games

by Conrad Brunner

March 3, 2002

TONIGHT'S MATCHUP

HEAD-TO-HEAD
28-30 RECORD 42-15
L-2 STREAK W-2
3-7 LAST 10 6-4
96.7 PF 104.3
97.4 PA 97.4
.444 OFF. FG PCT. .461
.436 DEF. FG PCT. .441
By Conrad Brunner


Pacers (28-30) at Sacramento (42-15)
Sunday, March 3, 6 p.m.
ARCO Arena
TV: NBC
RADIO: WIBC-1070 AM

SCOUTING REPORT
An eventful, it not successful, road trip will conclude this evening in Sacramento without Reggie Miller, who will miss the game - as well as Tuesday night's home game against Orlando - while serving an NBA-imposed suspension for his part in a brawl with the Lakers' Kobe Bryant after the Pacers' 96-84 loss in Los Angeles on Friday night. Both Bryant and Miller were hit with 2-game suspensions. Bryant's fine ($12,500) was slightly higher than Miller's ($10,00) because he threw a punch. Combining the lost salary with the fine, Miller's actions will cost him more than $300,000. It is his second suspension in two weeks. The first came after a tussle with Philadelphia's Derrick Coleman, and the Pacers lost the game he missed to Cleveland, 103-93. Before leaving on this frip, Miller decared it a tone-setter for the remainder of the season. Thus far, that tone has been dissonant. After struggling to an overtime victory against Golden State, arguably the worst team in the NBA at the moment, the Pacers blew a nine-point lead in the final minute and lost in overtime at Phoenix, then failed to make a meaningful basket in the final seven minutes of a loss to the Lakers. Now they face a Sacramento team that has the league's best record overall (42-15) and at home (29-2). A loss to the Kings would bring the Pacers home three games under .500 with six of the next nine on the road. A victory would salvage the trip, though hardly stamp it a triumph. The Pacers have won four in a row and five of six against the Kings, who haven't been playing at a high level of late, losing five of 11, with the losses coming by an average margin of 17.6 points. They are second in the NBA in scoring (104.3) and rebounds per game (45.4), so will challenge Pacers vulnerabilities in both areas.

PROBABLE STARTERS

O'Neal

Webber
J. Tinsley
9.3
PG M. Bibby
14.0
R. Artest
15.3
SG D. Christie
12.4
J. Bender
6.7
SF P. Stojakovic
22.0
J. O'Neal
17.8
PF C. Webber
24.5
B. Miller
13.1
C V. Divac
10.9
J. Foster
6.3
6th MAN B. Jackson
10.8
QUOTABLE
"This team has shown in glimpses of what's capable all year. It's just a matter of winning ballgames. Showing glimpses doesn't get you in the playoffs."

- Austin Croshere on the team's inconsistency
WHO'S HOT
Ron Artest is coming off his first career double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) in the loss to the Lakers. ... Austin Croshere had 14 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes in that game. ... Brad Miller has averaged 17.0 points and 10.2 rebounds in five games with the Pacers. ... The team has averaged 36.0 free-throw attempts in the last five. ... Sacramento's Bobby Jackson has averaged 13.8 points in the last five. ... Scott Pollard is 19 of 23 from the field (.826) in the last eight games.

WHO'S NOT
The Pacers had more turnovers (56) than assists (46) in the first three games of the trip. ... The team has made just 15 of 76 from the arc (.197) in five games since the Chicago trade. ... Jonathan Bender is 2-of-18 from the arc in the last 10. ... Reggie Miller was 5-of-25 from the arc on the trip and 13 of 44 (.295) overall. ... Jeff Foster has averaged 18.4 minutes, 3.2 points and 6.4 rebounds while shooting .269 from the field since the trade. ... Sacramento is led by Chris Webber but the Kings' barometer is Peja Stojakovic. In the last five losses, Stojakovic has averaged 15.4 points on .375 shooting overall and .182 from the arc. ... Hedo Turkoglu has shot .323 over all in the last four. ... Mike Bibby has shot .378 in the last three. ... Vlade Divac has averaged 8.6 points on .343 shooting in the last eight.

KEY MATCHUP
Forwards - Webber leads the Kings in scoring (24.5), rebounding (10.2) and blocked shots (1.56). O'Neal leads the Pacers in scoring (17.8), rebounding (10.7) and blocked shots (2.50). May the best man win.

INJURIES
Pacers - G Reggie Miller (NBA suspension) is out; F Al Harrington (R knee surgery) and G-F Ron Mercer (sprained R knee ligament) are on the injured list; F-C Carlos Rogers (suspended list) is not with the team.
Kings - G Brent Price (strained lower back) is out; G Mateen Cleaves (strained R plantar fascia) is on the injured list.