INDIANAPOLIS (TICKER) —Trying to avoid their longest losing streak in more than 10 years, the Indiana Pacers expect to have Ron Artest back in the lineup Friday when they meet the struggling Milwaukee Bucks.
Artest did not travel with the Pacers to Boston on Wednesday after being suspended by coach Isiah Thomas for disciplinary reasons. Reports have indicated that the volatile swingman was suspended after he grabbed a framed picture and smashed it against the locker room wall.
No official reason was given for the suspension, but reports have indicated that Artest will return Friday.
The inner turmoil is coming at a bad time for the Pacers, who have lost six straight games after not losing more than two in a row in the first three months of the season. They are trying to avoid their first seven-game slide since February 3-23, 1989.
Indiana’s struggles were magnified in a 71-69 loss to Boston as Reggie Miller fired an airball on a wide-open 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Jermaine O’Neal collected 31 points and 13 rebounds and was the only player to scorer in double figures for the Pacers, who lost for the ninth time in 13 games overall.
Jamaal Tinsley returned to Indiana’s lineup after missing one game for personal reasons. He had four points and seven assists.
Milwaukee has just one win in its last eight games and completed a winless two-game homestand with a 118-112 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
The Bucks have lost three of their last four road games and are 12-15 away from the Bradley Center this season.
Indiana has won the first two meetings with Milwaukee this season and three in a row overall. The Pacers are trying to win a season series from the Bucks for the first time since sweeping three games in the 1999 campaign.