Points in the Paint
By Warren Blatt, Sports Network NBA Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) – The Indiana Pacers will get a big lift
when swingman Stephen Jackson returns to the lineup on January 26th against
the Boston Celtics at the FleetCenter.
Jackson was a major participant in the disgraceful events that took place
during November 19th’s Pistons/Pacers game at The Palace of Auburn Hills. He
has served his 30-game suspension that was handed down by NBA Commissioner
David Stern, as Jackson was not available during Indiana’s loss on January
22nd against the Washington Wizards at Conseco Fieldhouse. The Pacers loss to
Washington was Indiana’s 30th contest since the brawl at Detroit.
The Pacers are 13-17 since November 19th. Indiana is 20-19 and is still in
position to win the Central Division. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit
Pistons are currently ahead of the Pacers in the Central.
The 26-year-old Jackson was the one significant addition to the Indiana
roster last offseason. The 6-8 Jackson, who can play shooting guard or small
forward and is also solid defensively, was acquired in July from the Atlanta
Hawks in a sign-and trade deal for forward Al Harrington. Jackson, who is a
deadly shooter from beyond the arc gives Indiana championship experience as he
won a championship ring with the San Antonio Spurs in 2002-03.
“When you talk to Stephen, he talks more about winning than he does minutes or
points and that’s what’s most impressive about the young man,” said team
President Larry Bird after acquiring Jackson. “He’s been very successful in
his career in the NBA. He played on a championship team and he’s looking
forward to having another opportunity to do that.”
In just nine games this season for the Pacers, Jackson has averaged 15.3
points, five rebounds and three assists in 38-plus minutes of action. Without
Artest, who was suspended for the rest of the season for his actions on
November 19th, the Pacers will look to Jackson to pickup his scoring
production. Jackson will become Indiana’s second scoring option behind All-
Star forward Jermaine O’Neal.
Last season, Jackson led the Hawks in scoring (18.1 ppg) and also grabbed 4.6
rebounds to go along with 3.1 assists in 80 games. Indiana hopes that the
former Hawk, Net and Spur can raise his scoring average back to that point on
a consistent basis.
A serious threat from anywhere on the court, Jackson is capable of scoring in
bunches. Before his suspension, the 6-8 swingman was shooting just 41.7
percent from the field, but he had knocked down a solid 37.2 percent of his
attempts from beyond the arc.
Jackson should be able to team up with O’Neal to give the Pacers a nice
inside-outside combination. With Jackson back on the court, O’Neal should also
be able to get a little more space down low, as Indiana’s opponents will have
to be aware of where Jackson is at all times.
Indiana head coach Rick Carlisle has to be thrilled to get Jackson back in the
lineup. Not only will Jackson help offensively, but he should give the Pacers
a big boost defensively and he will also give Carlisle the opportunity to
create matchup problems for Indiana’s opponents.
The Pacers were able to stay above water since November 19th. With the return
of Jackson, Indiana should become a much more dangerous team and could start
to make some noise in the Eastern Conference.