Wednesday , Mar , 14 , 2007 C.Y. Ellis

10 and counting for Pacers

(Sports Network) – Like sands through the hourglass, so are the chances of the
Indiana Pacers reaching the playoffs.

Indiana currently has the worst losing streak in the NBA, having dropped 10 in
a row and 13 of 16 to fall into a three-way tie with New York and New Jersey
for the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.

During the 10-game slide, the Pacers have dropped seven straight on the road
and three in a row at Conseco Fieldhouse. They will host Washington and
Atlanta with hopes of improving an 18-13 home record, but will most likely be
without star forward/center Jermaine O’Neal, who has missed the last three
games with a sprained left knee. He has been sidelined a total of nine games
this season and Rick Carlisle’s squad is 2-7 without him.

His importance to the team is much like how the earth spins on its axis.
O’Neal leads the team in scoring (19.7), rebounds (10.0) and blocks (2.9), and
is expected to return to the hardwood next week. Point guard Jamaal Tinsley
has been trying to pick up the slack and scored a career-high 37 points in
Tuesday’s loss to Minnesota.

Forward Jeff Foster is also hurting and was forced to leave Tuesday’s loss
with lower back spasms. Foster, who is averaging 4.3 points and 8.3 rebounds
this season, has 22 rebounds in 50 minutes in his last two games. He is listed
as questionable for Wednesday’s showdown with Washington.

Also, guard/forward Marquis Daniels has missed the last six games and 14 of 19
overall due to a knee injury. Daniels is averaging 7.1 points and 1.8 rebounds
this season, while the Pacers are only 3-11 without him in the lineup.

Indiana will play 10 of its remaining 19 regular-season games at Conseco
Fieldhouse, but the rest of month will be brutal. A few teams on the upcoming
March schedule are the Wizards, Rockets, Spurs, Heat, Bulls, Cavaliers and
Nets. The schedule is certainly not promising, but Carlisle and Co. have to
play top-notch hoops to stay alive in the Eastern Conference playoff race.