The Other Side: Indiana Pacers
The Indiana Pacers remain one of the more perplexing teams in the NBA. They are one of the middling Eastern Conference teams that remains in the playoff picture simply because they occasionally win games. Newly-minted all-star forward Danny Granger referred to his team as "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" after they pulled off an impressive 107-102 win against the Orlando Magic on Friday.
The Pacers (20-31) have recorded wins over three of the teams with four best records in the NBA -- the Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Magic. They also have losses against two of the teams with the five worst records in the NBA -- Memphis and the Los Angeles Clippers. The win over Orlando snapped a three-game losing streak. They are now just four games out of the eighth spot in the East.
When the Pacers faced the Wizards on Dec. 15, the Pacers snapped a six-game losing streak -- and a three-game losing streak at Verizon Center -- with 118-98 victory, as Granger scored a game-high 27 points. The Pacers are one of the highest scoring teams in the league, ranking fifth at 104.7 points per game, but they are one of the worst defensive teams, ranking 28th in the league and allowing 106.9 points per game. The Pacers love to fire from beyond the three-point line and they average 7.75 threes per game, eighth-best in the league.
Here's what else you need to know about the Pacers before they play the Wizards tonight at Verizon Center:
1. Danny Granger Is Having a Dream Season -- Despite That Tricky Knee
Danny Granger will be the least heralded of the first-time all-star selections this weekend in Phoenix. He has been under radar for most of his time playing basketball, but now that he ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring at 25.5 points per game, Granger is getting plenty of attention. A candidate for most improved player, Granger had a game-high 33 points on Friday against Orlando and has scored at least 30 points 15 times this season. He ranks third in three-pointers made (124) and shoots 39.5 percent from beyond the arc, so he will also participate in the three-point shootout on Saturday. Granger continues to play despite a sore right knee that has bothered him for a month. With the Pacers still remotely in the playoff hunt, he refuses to take any rest.
2. Jamaal Tinsley Is Upset
Stephon Marbury has received an unwarranted amount of attention for the New York Knicks' refusal to play him or release him, but he isn't the only player being paid not to play. Jamaal Tinsley, however, has had enough. Tinsley hasn't been around the team since the end of last season, when the team removed his nameplate, gathered his belongings, shipped them to his home in Atlanta and told him to stay away. The promise was that they'd work on a trade, but Tinsley's agent, Raymond Brothers, said the NBA players union will likely file a grievance against the Pacers because the Feb. 19 deadline is approaching, no deal is on the horizon and Tinsley wants to play.
3. Coach Jim O'Brien Is Constantly Tinkering
Because of injuries and inconsistency, the Pacers have used 12 different starting lineups the past 29 games, including four in the past four games. Searching for the right mix, O'Brien decided to go with a small ball lineup on Friday with Troy Murphy at center, Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy at forwards and T.J. Ford and Jarrett Jack in the backcourt. That lineup is 1-1 this season. Maryland native Jack has started 22 games this season and the Pacers are 11-11 when he is among the first five players announced in the pre-game introductions.
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