INDIANAPOLIS - Sam Cassell did not play in any preseason games for the Celtics and hasn't dressed for any of their three regular-season games. But Cassell could be a candidate for the active list when the Celtics visit Houston Tuesday.
"Sam is important to the team," Doc Rivers said last night before the Celtics lost to the Pacers, 95-79, in Indianapolis. "There is no plan with Sam. I know where I want to go with him, and he can help the team on the floor. Later in the year he will be more important. I'll activate him to get him some game experience and it will be later rather than sooner."
Cassell has been busy mentoring the Celtics' point guards.
"We need him. He keeps it loose but he is very serious," Rivers said. "He is able to say certain things to players."
Whistles while they work
The Celtics had 24 turnovers, many on traveling violations. Kevin Garnett committed six turnovers, four on traveling violations.
"I just think the crew was looking at that," Ray Allen said. "When you've been around as long as we've been around, the veterans on the squad, you know what certain referees look for a lot of times. They looked for that all night, they called traveling on us all night. It's very rare.
"I've seen the moves Paul [Pierce] or Kevin made all last year and haven't seen that many traveling calls. So, that was just what they were calling."
Out of line at the line
The team free throw percentage dropped to .667 for the season after a 21-for-35 performance against the Pacers.
"You can practice [free throws] but you can't mock a game situation," Rivers said.
Said Pierce: "Is [missing free throws] contagious? It's not a disease. Just because I'm missing them doesn't mean anyone else misses them."
Said Rajon Rondo: "It's mental. I shot so many free throws this summer I can't even count. And I have the worst percentage on the team."
Rondo went 0 for 3 last night and has hit only half of his free throws (12 of 24) this season.
Blood runs red
Rivers's son, Jeremiah, and several of his Indiana University teammates attended the game.
"He loves it there," Rivers said of Bloomington, where Jeremiah landed after transferring from Georgetown. "It's going to be more difficult than he thinks it is, after sitting out and not playing. He understands the situation and hopes they will have a good team."
Setting the Pacers
Danny Granger, who recently signed a five-year, $60 million contract, scored 20 in the win last night after going for 33 points in a 100-94 loss to Detroit Wednesday.
"One of the goals I'm trying to accomplish, along with getting this team back to the playoffs, is really getting this team back on track," Granger said before the game. "If being an All-Star is a conflict with that, so be it."
Granger, 25, is expected to succeed Jermaine O'Neal as the Pacers' leader.
"One day at a time," Granger said. "It's a big responsibility, but I've been groomed the right way. I think I can handle it with the help of other guys. I'll always cherish the role of leading by example, being a leader to the young guys."
Voting in a green state
Allen said most of the team submitted absentee ballots for Tuesday's presidential election because the Celtics visit Houston that night. Rondo noted "all but one" player is pro-Barack Obama and said, "You can guess who he is." Brian Scalabrine confirmed the guesses: "I'm a strong right-wing Republican."
Marc J. Spears of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Frank Dell'Apa can be reached at email@example.com.