Indiana's Armstrong on a coffee buzz
Veteran point guard finds pregame beverage helps keep his energy level up
By Mark Montieth
January 11, 2007
BOSTON -- Darrell Armstrong placed his customary pregame order with a ball boy before the Indiana Pacers played Boston at TD Banknorth Garden on Wednesday. A coffee. "With about 10 packs of sugar," he added.
So that's how a 38-year-old point guard manages to play like a toy that's been wound too tightly every game. Armstrong said he began drinking a pregame coffee during a West Coast trip in the 1998-99 season. Orlando's coach at the time, Chuck Daly, told the players they looked tired and to find a way to get their energy up. Armstrong, already a coffee drinker in the morning, decided to expand his habit and liked the results. "Sometimes it seemed I was falling asleep on the West Coast when the games started," he said.
Pacers coach Rick Carlisle, noting Armstrong's consistent energy level throughout the season, wonders if that isn't the secret. "You know what, I'm not a coffee drinker, but I might switch over from Mountain Dew," Carlisle joked.
Carlisle has his own method for getting "up" for games. He sniffs an ammonia capsule shortly before the start of the game. Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson often stop by for a head-clearing sniff.
This is how a team knows things aren't going well.
Boston guard Tony Allen managed to injure himself -- perhaps seriously -- while attempting an unnecessary dunk after the whistle had blown the play dead in the Pacers' 97-84 victory.
Drawing a foul from Jackson at the top of the key, Allen drove the lane for a just-for-fun slam. He banged it off the back of the rim, landed awkwardly on his left leg, and crumpled to the floor.
He had to be carried off the floor and was taken to a local hospital.
Another Celtic, backup forward Brian Scalabrine, injured his knee in the first half and sat out the second.
They follow injuries to three starters -- Paul Pierce, Wally Szczerbiak and Delonte West. "This is just terrible," Celtics coach Doc Rivers said.
O'Neal plays on
Indiana's O'Neal, who sprained his ankle in practice on Monday and struggled in Tuesday's win over Atlanta, got through the game with no noticeable problems.
"There was a lot of icing the last 48 hours," said O'Neal, who finished with 23 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. "I probably iced my ankle 22 times. I was surprised when I woke up this morning that I wasn't limping, after I limped through the game (Tuesday) night. "I tip my hat to the training staff; they did a great job."
Danny Granger came off the bench to score 16 points and grab eight rebounds for the Pacers, while Sarunas Jasikevicius had 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Jasikevicius helped keep the Pacers afloat in the first half, when he scored 11 points. They were the only Pacers reserves to score. . . . Al Harrington scored just seven points on 1-of-10 shooting, and grabbed just two rebounds. He was pulled from the game in the fourth quarter in favor of Granger.