Remaining Pacers show exceptional teamwork

Originally Published: November 24, 2004
By Brian James | ESPN Insider
INDIANAPOLIS – The injury-and-suspension-depleted Pacers proved again mind over matter and motivation are key ingredients in winning in the NBA.

On Tuesday in a charged Conseco Fieldhouse, they defeated the Celtics 106-96. With only eight players eligible to play and in uniform in wake of the brawl with the Pistons on Nov. 19, the Pacers were able to "circle the wagons" and play over their heads. They were helped by an energized crowd – Pacers' fans are some of the most loyal and knowledgeable in the entire league – that transferred an "us against the league" mentality to the players.

Another team also has excelled despite being short-handed this season: On opening night, the Wizards defeated the Grizzlies despite having only eight players in uniform.

For a player in this situation, being short-handed has a silver lining. If you make a mistake, chances are you're not going to have to look over at the bench to see who is getting ready to replace you.

Coach Rick Carlisle rotated just seven players in his main rotation, even though an eighth player, center John Edwards, played two minutes. Carlisle was tremendous in terms of game management and play calling.