Players respond to criticism from Miller
Former star says team lacks chemistry it needs to win Eastern Conference title
By Mike Wells
ORLANDO -- Reggie Miller's comments about his former team didn't go unnoticed Wednesday.
Miller said on TNT on Tuesday that he favored the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference because of concerns with the Indiana Pacers' team chemistry.
"Until Indiana shows me they've solved their chemistry problems, you have to go with a team that doesn't argue, that gets the job done at the end of the day," Miller said on the air. "Any little thing can set Indiana off."
Guard Stephen Jackson responded, "Everybody is entitled to their opinion. I respect Reggie too much to degrade his statement, but I don't agree with it. We're the best team in the league. We know it. Our biggest thing that we have been saying for the last month is that we're not trying to prove that to nobody else. We're trying to prove it to ourselves.
"We know what we can do. It's about us, not what people think, because that never won a game."
The Pacers, Pistons and Miami Heat have been picked as the top three teams in the conference. Any of the three could win the conference, but the Pacers have concerns about their maturity and team chemistry.
"I'm not saying I completely agree with him, but Detroit should be the favorites because they went to the Finals two years in a row and they won a championship," Pacers forward Austin Croshere said. "I can't disagree with him on that. I think there's no doubt one of our biggest concerns is playing as a team. We know we have a lot of individual talent. It's a matter of playing as a team. I give him credit for calling it how he sees it."
Miller will air more of his opinions tonight as an analyst for TNT's telecast of the game between the Pacers and the host Heat.
As expected, centers Jeff Foster and Scot Pollard and point guard Eddie Gill were put on the inactive list for Wednesday's game.
Foster and Pollard are dealing with injuries. Gill will likely be inactive for most of the season since he's the fourth point guard.
The inactive list replaced the injured list in the new collective bargaining agreement. Previously, players were required to miss at least five games when they were on the injured list. Teams can now juggle rosters on a game-to-game basis.
The ability to rotate rosters on a game-to-game basis would be good for tonight's game at Miami because the Pacers need as many big bodies as possible for Heat center Shaquille O'Neal. Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, however, said Pollard, out with a calf injury, is "very doubtful, for the game."
"I believe (the new rule is) a luxury rather than have guys making up injuries," Carlisle said. "If you have a team with a lot of depth, there are certain situations where it's an advantage. Right now we don't have that."
Welcome to the NBA
Orlando forward Dwight Howard, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 draft, welcomed Pacers rookie Danny Granger to the NBA by throwing down a dunk over him in the second half. Granger fell to the ground after the dunk.
Granger's teammates playfully teased him.
"A dunk gives people a lot of momentum," Granger said. "I'll take the foul any time. I wasn't trying to hurt anybody. I was just trying to make a play."