Winless Without O'Neal, Pacers Face Surging Heat

by Conrad Brunner

January 19, 2002

TONIGHT'S MATCHUP

HEAD-TO-HEAD
21-20 RECORD 11-26
L-4 STREAK W-3
3-7 LAST 10 6-4
97.4 PF 84.5
97.4 PA 89.0
.447 OFF. FG PCT. .428
.435 DEF. FG PCT. .419
By Conrad Brunner


Pacers (21-20) at Miami (11-26)
Saturday, Jan. 19, 2002 9 p.m.
AmericanAirlines Arena
TV: WB4
RADIO: WIBC-1070 AM

SCOUTING REPORT
You really don't need a calculator to add up Jermaine O'Neal's importance to the Pacers, but it helps. Though much of the attention given him has focused on his explosion as an offensive force, the statistics indicate his biggest effect is on defense. With him, they hold opponents to averages of 96.6 points and .430 shooting. Without him, they allow averages of 103.2 points and .470 shooting. With O'Neal, the Pacers are 21-15. Without him, they are 0-5. They will be without him again tonight against a resurgent Miami team that began its turnaround with an 89-87 victory over Pacers in Conseco Fieldhouse on New Year's Eve. The Heat brought a 5-23 record into that game and has gone 6-3 since, with five of those victories on the road, including a shocking 102-96 upset of the Lakers on Wednesday night. The Pacers should need no reminders of the dangers Miami presents. Not only has Alonzo Mourning returned to form of late, but guards Rod Strickland and Eddie Jones tortured the Pacers, constantly using dribble penetration to get inside the defense to create easy shots. Strickland was one assist from a triple-double (14 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists) while Jones racked up a season-high 29 points. In that game, the Pacers blew a 10-point halftime lead, and a 77-72 lead with 5:58 left against a team that had lost six in a row. Now, the tables are turned, and we will see how the Pacers deal with the adverse role.

PROBABLE STARTERS

Miller

Jones
J. Tinsley
9.8
PG R. Strickland
8.3
R. Miller
16.9
SG E. Jones
18.3
J. Rose
18.3
SF K. Gill
4.9
J. Foster
6.5
PF B. Grant
9.4
P. Brezec
2.6
C A. Mourning
15.4
A. Harrington
13.1
6th MAN J. Jackson
12.0
QUOTABLE
"I think when we first get on the floor, the intensity is there but somewhere in the first quarter we lose that and put ourselves in a box. We better be ready tonight; Miami is playing well."

- Travis Best
WHO'S HOT
Reggie Miller has averaged 23.7 points on .512 shooting in the last three games. ... Jalen Rose has averaged 26.0 points on .558 shooting in the last five. ... Jeff Foster has averaged 11.3 points and 11.7 rebounds in the last three. ... Travis Best has hit 10-of-12 from the field and totaled 25 points in the last two games. ... Miami center Alonzo Mourning is regaining full strength, averaging 18.3 points, 9.5 rebounds, 2.92 blocked shots and shooting .640 from the field in the last 12 games. ... In the current three-game win streak, Miami has averaged 27.0 points and shot .587 from the field and .875 (7-of-8) from the arc in the fourth quarter. ... Kendall Gill has averaged 8.8 points and 27.3 minutes in the last four. ... Jim Jackson has averaged 14.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in the last three.

WHO'S NOT
In his last 10 appearances, Austin Croshere has totaled 27 points and shot .306 from the field. ... Al Harrington has shot .383 in the last 10 games and is 7-of-26 (.269) in the last three. ... Jamaal Tinsley has shot .308 overall in the last nine games, going 5-of-29 (.172) from the 3-point line. ... The Pacers' defense has allowed an average of 105.4 points in the last five losses. ... The Pacers have been outscored 93-49 in the second period of the last three games. ... Miami reserve forward LaPhonso Ellis has averaged 4.0 points on .310 shooting in the last five. ... Brian Grant has totaled 12 points and nine rebounds in the last three. ... Miami is 4-13 at home.

KEY MATCHUP
Center - Mourning has returned to his familiar role of not only leading the Heat in heart and spirit, but in productivity. Without Jermaine O'Neal, the Pacers will be unable to produce much inside, offensively, but the combination of big men led by Jeff Foster, Primoz Brezec, Carlos Rogers and possibly Al Harrington must make Mourning work for his points and rebounds. If Mourning is allowed to be dominant inside, Miami's entire offense clicks.

INJURIES
Pacers - G Jamaal Tinsley (bruised L elbow, bruised L hip) is probable; F Jermaine O'Neal (hyperextended L knee) is out; G Jamison Brewer (strained R groin) and G Norm Richardson (left ankle) are on the injured list.
Heat - C Ernest Brown (jammed R thumb), C Sean Marks (cervical strain) and G Anthony Carter (lower abdominal strain) are on the injured list.