Carter coming to Indy -- with Nets
By Conrad Brunner | Feb. 21, 2008
Vince Carter will be on the visitor's bench Friday night. Mike Miller will remain with Memphis. Jermaine O'Neal and Jamaal Tinsley will hold down their usual spots on the Pacers' inactive list. Despite reports of discussions involving separate deals for Carter and Miller, among others, the Pacers did not make a move before Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
PACERS vs. NETS
Friday, 7 p.m.
Radio: WFNI 1070-AM
"I happen to like coaching this group of players," said Coach Jim O'Brien. "I think that they feel like they have not played nearly their best basketball yet, and I want to see them play that type of basketball. If this is the group that has to fight it out for the playoffs, thats fine with me."
For the players, the passing of the deadline was something of a relief.
"With the trade deadline looming, you hear so many rumors and you don't know who's going to be here and who's not," said Danny Granger. "With that gone, we know this is the team we're going to have the rest of the year so we're going to have to make it work."
Losers of three in a row and 10 of 12, the Pacers (21-33) play back-to-back games against a Nets team entering a new era, having traded star point guard Jason Kidd to Dallas. Though New Jersey (24-30) will have to wait for the debut of newly acquired guard Devin Harris, out 10-14 days with a sprained ankle, Marcus Williams started at the point and scored 25 in a 110-102 overtime victory over Chicago Wednesday.
Even with the Kidd deal, the Nets insist they're focused more on the present than the future.
"For us, its very important to our group to be in the playoffs," said Nets Coach Lawrence Frank. "A source of pride is being one of four teams to play in the postseason six consecutive years and we do not want to let that down. So we have to do it by any way. Obviously, were going to be starting out without Devin for 10-14 days and so we just have to find a way and quickly assimilate the new parts and find which parts are going to fit best together but by and large we have to invest in the season. We have to commit ourselves to each other, to the team, and we just have to put ourselves in a better position that we have prior to this point."
KEY TO THE GAME
With team captain Jason Kidd gone, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson are stepping into bigger leadership roles and the first returns were positive for the Nets as they combined for 57 points in an overtime victory over the Bulls. The Pacers couldn't stop Carter last year. He averaged 31.3 points in the three competitive games and played sparingly in a 24-point blowout. Keeping the Nets' two prolific wing players from dominating the game will be the biggest challenge for Indiana's erratic defense.
Granger's four 3-pointers against the Cavs gave him 101 for the season, making him the third player in franchise history to make at least 100 in consecutive seasons (following Reggie Miller and Stephen Jackson). Granger has averaged 21.1 points and .462 shooting from the 3-point line in the last 21 games. Travis Diener has 39 assists against just five turnovers in his last six games. Mike Dunleavy has averaged 13.5 points on .368 shooting overall and .200 from the arc in his last eight. Troy Murphy is coming off his first 20-point outing since Nov. 21. The offense has averaged 91.3 points on .394 shooting in the last three. The starters have been outscored by 124 points in the last 12 games and 63 in the last three. The Pacers have averaged 9.2 fast-break points in the last 12, four below their season average.
This is the first meeting of the season. The Nets swept the Pacers last year but Indiana still holds series leads of 75-61 overall and 47-21 at home.
Pacers - C David Harrison (sprained R ankle) is questionable; G Jamaal Tinsley (sore L knee) and F-C Jermaine O'Neal (bone bruise, L knee) are out.
Nets - F Stromile Swift (stomach virus) is questionable; G Devin Harris (sprained L ankle) is out.