PACERS vs. KNICKS
Tuesday, March 7
7:00, Conseco Fieldhouse
TV: FSN RADIO: WIBC-1070 AM
Jamaal Tinsley is expected to return to action tonight when the Pacers host the New York Knicks in Conseco Fieldhouse. Tinsley has missed 15 consecutive games and 26 of 30 while recovering from injuries to his right elbow and biceps. Coach Rick Carlisle said after the team's Tuesday morning shootaround Tinsley would be in uniform.
"We're in a situation where we don't have to rush him," Carlisle said. "He's done a lot on his own to try to get ready but he hasn't played real five-on-five for a couple of months. We don't have to rush him back. We've got a couple of guys (Anthony Johnson and Sarunas Jasikevicius) that have done a solid job. I'm sure there are going to be opportunities for him to play, but we're going to play it by ear a little bit early."
Carlisle said Anthony Johnson, who has started 28 of the last 30 games, will remain the starter for the time being. Johnson has played extremely well of late, averaging 16.1 points and 6.0 assists while shootign .534 from the field in his last nine games.
"A.J.'s the starter for now," he said. "We'll see how the next couple of weeks unfold. We've got two very dependable guys that have been holding the fort for two months. It's great to have J.T. back but we were in the same position in January and probably rushed him back to soon, he got re-injured and it affected the team a little bit. We're not in a situation where we need to rush things. He's going to do what he can to be ready to play when we need him and it's great to have him back."
Tinsley, averaging 10.4 points, 4.9 assists and 1.3 steals in 23 games, tried to come back in late January after an 11-game absence. He made four appearances and clearly wasn't himself, shooting 9-of-33 and committing 13 turnovers, before returning to the inactive list.
New York (16-43) is coming off a 103-98 victory in Milwaukee Saturday, the first in six games since Steve Francis was acquired. He has averaged 14.2 points on 50 percent shooting (including five-of-6 from the 3-point line), with his new team starting just twice. Quentin Richardson has been paired with Stephon Marbury in the starting backcourt.
With Francis, Marbury, Richardson, Jalen Rose and Jamal Crawford outside and Eddy Curry in the post, the Knicks don't lack for explosive scorers, but Coach Larry Brown's greatest challenge has been finding the right combinations. The Knicks have used 35 lineups featuring 16 players, far outdistancing the second-place Pacers and Bobcats (22 apiece).
New York has dropped six of seven (and 22 of 25) and brings a 5-25 road record into the game, which also should be a concern, because the Pacers have struggled against such teams, going 14-14 against opponents at or below .500 (and 16-12 against those with winning records).
The Pacers (30-26) are coming off a 3-1 road trip and will follow this game with three more on the road.