O'Neal wants consistent rotation
By Mark Montieth
TORONTO -- Rick Carlisle has tinkered with his starting lineup and his playing rotation in an attempt to find a winning combination for the Indiana Pacers.
He mentioned the possibility of more changes following Sunday's 92-83 loss to Toronto. Forward/center Jermaine O'Neal, however, would like to see a more consistent approach.
"We're going to have to pick a rotation," O'Neal said. "We have to find it soon. There's no way you can get a rhythm as a team with guys in and out of there. You have to pick somebody and you have to roll with them. If that doesn't work, then you change it."
O'Neal, who finished with 15 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots, also was frustrated by the offense late in the game.
The Pacers were still clinging to hope after cutting a 19-point fourth-quarter deficit to eight on Stephen Jackson's 3-pointer with 3:11 left. They had two shots to get closer, but Jackson and Danny Granger each missed 3-pointers.
Toronto's Chris Bosh followed with a layup, securing the outcome.
O'Neal complained to the coaches as he walked to the bench for the timeout that followed Bosh's basket. He got the ball on the first play after the break and drew a foul after rebounding two of his own misses. He hit both foul shots.
"I always want the ball in situations where we need baskets," O'Neal said. "They were playing one-on-one coverage. I fully trust my teammates, but at that particular time, they weren't making shots and if they're not making shots, I want the ball to make things happen."
The gods are angry
Indiana's Al Harrington continued to struggle with his shooting Sunday, hitting 4-of-15 shots.
He hit 5-of-9 shots in Friday's win over Cleveland, but was 5-of-24 in the two previous games.
Although he's no fan of the NBA's new ball, he doesn't hold it responsible.
"The good thing about it is, I'm not off too much," said Harrington, who had a game-high 14 rebounds. "They're right on line; they just won't go in.
"I believe in basketball gods. I must have done something wrong. I'm trying to make it right with them. Hopefully they'll start going in soon."
Carlisle's also confident.
"Looking long term, I'm not worried about Al struggling offensively," he said. "I'm more worried about the energy and decision-making of our team."
Baston still waiting
Maceo Baston, who was activated for Sunday's game but did not play, has made just four appearances this season.
That's not what he had in mind last summer when he signed a free agent contract with the Pacers, but he doesn't regret leaving the powerful Maccabi team in Israel.
"It's still early in the season," he said. "Maybe this will be a learning experience and next year will be better."
Carlisle and Pacers president Larry Bird both express confidence in Baston's ability.
"I'm not disappointed in him at all," Bird said. "I think he belongs in this league. He adds something we need out there and his time will come."