Mark Montieth: Pacers Q&A
Indianapolis Star sports reporter Mark Montieth answers your questions about the Pacers.
January 25, 2005
Question: As a Pacers fan it's been hard to watch some of the games this season. The Wizards game jumps to mind, maybe because it was the most recent. It's obvious to me that we miss Ron Artest's D the most. I think in the long run getting all these players playing time is good, but a lot of people were all over Derrick McKey for not scoring, but in Game 6 against the Bulls who did we put on Michael Jordan? We don't have a defender that can turn his man into Casper the Ghost and it's killing us.
I hope all the people that want Artest gone notice this. Stephen Jackson coming back will be great, but (and this is my question to you) do you think the Pacers can win a championship without Ron Artest? (Keith from New Palestine, Ind.)
Answer: I agree with your point. Defenders are always overlooked until a team starts losing, and then their value becomes obvious. The Pacers miss Artest greatly on both ends. Jackson can pick up the offensive slack and part of the defensive slack, but he's not the defender Artest is. I believe the Pacers can reach the conference finals if they are otherwise healthy this season, and perhaps reach the Finals with a few breaks. But I can't see them winning a championship without Artest.
Question: Question 1: When I watched the game against Washington and Jamison Brewer got the last shot, during the replay it was clear that there should have been more time on the clock, .9 seconds in my estimation. Why wasn't this pursued by the Pacers staff on the floor?
There was no way Jermaine O'Neal should have come down with the ball on that last-(.4) second shot that was blocked. It should have been a catch and shoot (Derrick Fisher like!)
Question 2: Now that Ron Artest has been cleared to practice, what precautions are in place to ensure he doesn't get injured. This would be very bad considering he can't really help the Pacers (other than training). (Andy from Chattanooga, Tenn.)
Answer: You probably had a better view of the situation regarding the clock than anyone at the game. I don't know what the television replays indicated, but there was no way to know for those at courtside how much time was left. I didn't sense there should have been more time on the clock, either.
I agree, however, that O'Neal had no chance of getting off a shot by coming down with the ball. I expected them to throw the ball at the rim and try to get a tip of some kind.
I don't think the Pacers will take any precautions regarding Artest. He'll just have to play and hope for the best. Actually, he can withstand an injury more than the other players since he's not playing. Players rarely seem to suffer serious injuries in practice, since they're not as intense as the games.
Question: I was wondering if you would highlight all the moments between Reggie Miller and Spike Lee. I know from reading Reggie's book (I Love Being the Enemy) that he and Spike are friends. What do you know about the two and why Reggie enjoys knocking down threes in his face whenever he sits courtside? (Aleks from Bloomington, Ind.)
Answer: Their friendship grew from Miller's playoff moments at Madison Square Garden. I believe it all began with his 25-point fourth quarter in the 1994 playoffs against the Knicks. Lee was heckling from his courtside seat, which only fueled Miller. He responded with the choke sign while looking over at Lee, which was caught on camera and replayed around the world.
Miller scored eight points in the final 8.9 seconds of a game there the following year right in front of Lee, and hit a 3-pointer to force overtime in a game there in 1998 while scoring 38 points. He also scored 34 points in leading the Game 6 win in New York that clinched the trip to the Finals in 2000. And, he scored 31 points there last season in a November game.
Miller gets excited playing in any big game, and games in the Garden tend to be bigger. Spike Lee has added to the atmosphere, and their trash-talking in 1994 sparked a relationship that has carried through. So when Lee was sitting courtside for the game in Miami on Saturday and Miller hit those two 3-pointers in the overtime session, it no doubt brought back memories.
Miller is a superstitious person by nature, so he's no doubt come to like having Lee sit there courtside. Perhaps the Pacers should buy Lee a seat at Conseco Fieldhouse and fly him in for all the games.
Question: With the trade deadline looming, do you see the Pacers making any moves? (Sergeant from Ofallon, Ill.)
Answer: I think it's unlikely. It's always unlikely for them, because they prefer to make their deals in the off-season. Donnie Walsh has rarely made deals in February, and the ones he has made all came in losing seasons. Some people believe they should so something to try to fill the void Artest leaves behind, but they aren't likely to do that under these circumstances.
Like always, they'll do a deal if they think it helps the team. But they seem even more reluctant to do a deal now than usual because they haven't had a chance to reasonably evaluate their needs given all the injuries and suspensions.
Question: Are there plans for the Pacers to have new uniforms? Also, how many ex-Pacers are coaches in the NBA? (D.C. from Indianapolis)
Answer: The Pacers will have new uniforms next season, but the design won't be announced until later this season, or perhaps in the off-season. I'm told it hasn't been finalized yet.
I wrote a story on the ex-Pacers who are coaching two seasons ago and they had more than any other team in the league. I don't know if that's still the case or not, but there are several out there. Among the head coaches are Byron Scott, Sam Mitchell, Herb Williams, Johnny Davis and Scott Skiles. The assistants include Jerry Sichting, Randy Wittman, Alex English, Lester Conner, Sidney Lowe, Adrian Dantley, Kenny Natt and Tony Brown.
Then there are guys who fall into the category of "special assistants" who don't sit on the bench during games. Chuck Person works with the current Pacers as a special instructor. Duane Ferrell has had a similar job in Washington in recent seasons.
Question: What do you think Reggie Miller will do at the end of the season? Do you think the brawl will have an effect on his decision? (Gary from Orange Park, Fla.)
Answer: I don't think the brawl will have an impact on his decision to retire. I think he'll make that decision after the season and base it on how he feels and how he regards the team's future. He told me a few years ago that he didn't want to play past 40 and he turns 40 in August. But there must have been some reason he signed a three-year contract that takes him through next season. I have to believe he wants to leave his options open.
If he's feeling good and the prospects are bright, I wouldn't be surprised if he returns. It would seem cruel for him if he played 18 years and then retired the year before they won a championship. He's proven this season he can still contribute when given a major role in the offense.
Question: After watching the past few games it looks like Anthony Johnson is really struggling with his shot and with setting up the offense. Have the Pacers shown any interest in acquiring another backup point guard or in giving Eddie Gill another shot? (Michele from Denver, Colo.)
Answer: Johnson has been struggling. He's shooting less than 35 percent, which is a little puzzling because he works hard on his shot. In fact, he did the same shooting and workout regimen that Reggie Miller did when both were out with broken hands. Johnson is recovered from his broken shooting hand, but perhaps the injury has affected his psyche.
I haven't heard that the Pacers are pursuing another point guard, but that has been a weak spot lately. They probably would have to give up one to get another one in a trade, which means another team has to want what they have. Or it could be part of a larger deal. They had interest in Mike James in the off-season, but he was able to command more in the marketplace than they were able to play.
Question: What is going on with David Harrison? The last time I saw him was the game where he sustained the concussion (I think it was the Memphis game). Is he doing OK? When does the team expect him back in the lineup? (Patrick from Indianapolis)
Answer: I wrote about this in Sunday's notebook. They are saying he might return for the game against Detroit on Thursday. He's on the injured list and still hasn't rejoined the team in practice. He watched Saturday's game against Washington on the bench in street clothes but I didn't get a chance to talk to him.
Question: I am completely confused. I read a report that Ron Artest is allowed to practice with the team but is ineligible to play this year or participate in the playoffs. But the report from Sports Illustrated indicates that the Pacers are still hopeful that he will still be able to play this year. How can that be overturned? Are they hoping David Stern will have a change of heart? The arbitrator upheld the decision on Artest and Stephen Jackson. What other avenue can the Pacers take? (Blake from Chandler, Ariz.)
Answer: As my story in Saturday's paper said, the Pacers are hopeful Artest's suspension will be reduced, but have been given no indication it will happen. They are at the mercy of David Stern on this one, as there appear to be no more legal recourses.
Question: In the Pacers' 90-87 loss at New Orleans, Jermaine O'Neal tipped in a basket for New Orleans. Does this basket count in the stats (i.e. is it counted in the FG, FGA and PTS columns of the box score)? (Todd from Indianapolis)
Answer: That basket was credited to Rodney Rogers, who was behind O'Neal along the foul lane and also swatted at the ball.