Cleamons Breaks Down Indy

The Indiana Pacers have struggled in 2009-10, winning just 20 games with 39 losses as only New Jersey (6-53) has won fewer games in the Eastern Conference.

Their best player, Danny Granger, has battled various injuries and played in only 41 of 59 games, while Troy Murphy has missed 10 and Mike Dunleavy 14 contests.

With those – and other – injuries leading Head Coach Jim O’Brien to use 22 different starting lineups this season, the Pacers have turned recently to small ball, starting point guards T.J. Ford and Earl Watson together in the backcourt. Usual power forward Murphy has been playing center, with wings Granger and Rush spreading the floor further. The Pacers, however, could very well start Dahntay Jones instead of Ford to better match up with Kobe Bryant.

When on the floor, Granger’s been quite good to average 23.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.61 steals, and Murphy a near double-double with 13.8 points and 9.7 boards a night.

But as assistant coach Jim Cleamons explained, punishing the Pacers with size and not getting into their up-and-down game will be the key factor for the Lakers. It certainly was on Jan. 27 in Indianapolis, when Andrew Bynum posted 27 points and 12 rebounds while Pau Gasol added 21 and 13.