Healthy Anderson gives Pacers too many guards
By Sekou Smith
January 23, 2004
For the first time this season, the Indiana Pacers' four-man point guard contingent is healthy.
Kenny Anderson, who started the first 28 games before straining a calf muscle, said he's fully recovered from his injury and is ready to return to action.
Anderson would prefer to be in uniform tonight, when the Pacers host the Houston Rockets at Conseco Fieldhouse. But what he wants and what will happen are two different things.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said the Pacers will continue the way they have the past 11 games, with Jamaal Tinsley as the starter, Anthony Johnson as his backup and Jamison Brewer as the third point guard in the playing rotation.
That leaves Anderson on the injured list until further notice.
"Kenny's ready if you need him. And we may activate him at some point soon," Carlisle said after Thursday's practice. "We'll have to wait and see."
Anderson, who averaged 6.5 points, 3.1 assists and 1.1 turnovers before the injury, said he'd be ready when called upon.
"I don't know what they're going to do, but I'm fine. I'm ready," Anderson said. "I guess until I hear otherwise, I'm just one hell of an insurance policy."
Carlisle agreed. "Kenny Anderson, in my mind, is still a starting-caliber point guard in this league. We just happen to be in a great situation right now where we have four guys healthy and four guys playing pretty well."
The Yao revival
Yao Ming was a non-factor in his first meeting this season with the Indiana Pacers, managing just four shots in the Pacers' 79-71 win Dec. 23 at Toyota Center.
But in the past two weeks the 7-6 center has come into his own, highlighted by a season-high 29 points with 10 rebounds in Houston's 86-71 home win over New York on Wednesday.
Yao is averaging 21.2 points and 11.4 rebounds in his past five games.
He presents a particularly difficult challenge for the Pacers, who will have to defend him without an active player taller than 6-11. It's a challenge that Pacers center Jeff Foster anxiously awaits. "It's fun to play him because he is so good," Foster said.
The Pacers used Foster, Scot Pollard and Jermaine O'Neal against Yao in the first meeting. The trio of big men wore him down. Foster insists that the strategy remains the same.
"When he gets the ball, you stay behind him and try and get a hand up and on the ball and basically hope he misses the shot," Foster said. "You can't block his shot. There's no way to block his shot. You've just got to try and beat him early and keep battling."
For the season, Yao is averaging 16 points, 9.2 rebounds, 1.88 blocks and 1.5 assists, having started all 41 games this season for the Rockets.
Pollard is expected to be available tonight, although he missed Thursday's practice with a stomach virus.
Jonathan Bender is doubtful for tonight's game with a sore knee that's been bothering him since last Friday.
Bender missed the first 39 games of the season recovering from knee surgery. He's missed the past two dealing with swelling and soreness, which surfaced after he played in three consecutive games.
Bender was scheduled to have his knee examined by Boston-based orthopedic surgeon Dan Dyrek this morning, with a decision on his status to be made after that examination.
"Whether or not his most recent issue is a true setback or a part of the healing, rehabilitation process, we need to find out," Carlisle said. "The swelling is down, but he's a little bit concerned and we need to make sure it's right before we put him back out there."
No fireworks display expected
Houston has been among the best defensive teams all season, ranking first in defensive field goal percentage and among the top three in points allowed most of the season. Indiana's 79-71 victory in Houston on Dec. 23 may be an indication of how tonight's game will go, although the Pacers' offense has picked up since Jamaal Tinsley entered the starting lineup 12 games ago. "They're going to make it hard to score because they're solid defensively and they tempo the game a certain way," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said of the Rockets.
Artest not worried about slump
Ron Artest's perimeter shot has come and gone all season, and lately it's gone. He's hit 20 of his past 62 field goal attempts, including two of his past 12 3-pointers. He's confident it will come back. "I'm not really worried about it," he said. "I'm still playing defense and that's the main thing."
-- Mark Montieth