Indiana coach Rick Carlisle won’t use the suspension of three of his top players as an excuse. He doesn’t want the rest of the Pacers to do so either.
“You can’t let externals affect the way you play,” Carlisle said after the Pacers had their season-high losing streak extended to six games with a 95-86 defeat to Milwaukee on Friday.
The Pacers will try to heed Carlisle’s advice and end their skid when they welcome the Sacramento Kings to Conseco Fieldhouse.
Indiana is 3-7 since Ron Artest, Jermaine O’Neal and Stephen Jackson were suspended for fighting with Detroit fans on Nov. 19. Making matters worse, starting point guard Jamaal Tinsley has missed the last two games with a sprained right ankle.
But Carlisle insists his club can’t be discouraged by the lack of manpower.
“That’s kind of where our fortunes are right now. We have to bounce back,” he said. “It has to be about getting the win and right now we are having a hard time doing that. We are going to have to get the wheels back on the wagon and get ready for Sacramento tomorrow night at home.”
Sacramento contributed to Indiana’s current slide with a 113-87 win over the Pacers at Arco Arena on Dec. 3. The win was part of a five-game run for the Kings, who were slowed down by Minnesota on Friday, 113-105 at the Target Center.
Chris Webber had 25 points for the Kings, who blew a fourth-quarter lead by allowing the Timberwolves to go on an 18-3 run down the stretch.
“We had ‘em,” Webber said. “Their energy went up and we didn’t keep our groove. And when they’re feeding off their crowd, you know they’re going to try to make a run.”
The loss also ended a four-game road winning streak for Sacramento, which opened a three-game trip.