Tuesday , Mar , 06 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

Indiana losing Pace in East

(Sports Network) – It must be nice to lose five straight games and still have
a .500 record and remain in contention for a playoff spot.

But if the recent trend continues, the Indiana Pacers will be booking early
vacation plans before the season even ends. Right now the struggling Pacers
are seventh overall in the Eastern Conference, with Orlando, New Jersey
and New York creeping behind.

Not only has Indiana dropped five in a row — all by double digits — to fall
to 29-29 on the season, but it also is 0-2 so far on a four-game road trip
against the Suns, Clippers, Kings and Jazz. The last time Indiana was under
the .500 mark this season was after a December 11 loss to Chicago (11-12).

The Pacers have dropped three in a row on the road and own an 11-17 record
away from Conseco Fieldhouse this season.

With Sacramento and Utah left on the road trip, the Pacers better start
winning as the visitor fast or they will be joining Boston as a guaranteed
miss for the postseason. Head coach Rick Carlisle and Co. will play 13 of the
remaining 24 games this season on the road. Over the last 13 games, Indiana
has played 11 teams from the Western Conference and is 4-7 over that span. The
Pacers are 9-15 against the West this season.

Carlisle needs forward Jermaine O’Neal to return to his All-Star form after
he failed to score in double digits for the first time in 45 games. He
finished with just nine points in the loss to the Clippers on Saturday.
O’Neal, however, has swatted 15 shots over the last four games and leads the
NBA with 158 blocks this season.

Since the Pacers have shot below 40 percent in four of their past five games,
it wouldn’t hurt for O’Neal to step up offensively. O’Neal is battling through
a sore knee, and will go head-to-head with Sacramento Tuesday night at ARCO

Indiana has allowed at least 100 points in 10 of the past 12 games. Expect the
Kings to eclipse that mark minutes into the fourth quarter later tonight.