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Frank Vogel not worried about suspensions after Game 6 scuffle

Indiana coach Frank Vogel says he doesn’t expect any discipline from the NBA after a scuffle late in the first half that prompted Pacers star Paul George to step off the bench.

Atlanta’s Mike Scott and Indiana guard George Hill got into it under the basket after a missed shot in Game 6 Thursday night, shoving each other in front of the Pacers bench. Replays showed George and a teammate taking a step onto the court, though they were quickly pushed back by the assistant coaches.

– Associated Press

The Atlanta Hawks beat the Indiana Pacers 107-88 on Sunday. Pacers center Roy Hibbert played just nine minutes in the game, finishing 0-of-5 for no points, rebounds or blocks — just one turnover. Here’s the Indianapolis Star on the Pacers coach Frank Vogel and the entire situation:

It was interesting, then, that in the midst of the Pacers’ humiliating 107-88 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks – winners of eight of their previous 29 games, by the way – Vogel channeled his inner Bird. With the Pacers trailing 17-3 and 6:05 remaining in a brutal first quarter, Vogel benched the entire starting five.

Hallelujah.

“They’re not getting it done,” Vogel said. “They’re not getting it done, we have to go to someone else, see if someone else can get it done.”

Vogel then did another un-Vogel-like thing to start the second half: He benched Roy Hibbert. Hallelujah, again. Hibbert was terrible, going 0-for-5 without a single rebound in 9 ½ minutes.

After the game, Vogel spun it by saying that he was thinking about resting Hibbert before the start of Sunday night’s game. Then, after watching Hibbert struggle – and watching somebody named Pero Antic light him up from the perimeter – Vogel pulled the plug.

Key word there being spun.

“I considered resting Roy before tonight’s game because he looks worn down,” Vogel said during a short, terse post-game press conference. “He’s a 7-2 player that’s played every game this year, which is very rare. He looks to me to be worn down. He’s giving good effort, but he looks to be to be worn down…I decided to play him, but when he got off to a slow start, I decided to rest him.”

Here’s the Indianapolis Star with a look at the Pacers, who have been less than spectacular for a while now:

A slump? A hiccup? No, it’s a whole lot more than that. After Monday night’s 103-77 blowout loss to the San Antonio Spurs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers have lost 10 of their last 16 games and six of their last eight. After that 33-7 start, when they were the toast of the NBA and had everybody lauding their selflessness, the Pacers have now gone 19-16. That’s not a slump. That’s a month-and-a-half, two months’ worth of mediocrity. That’s who they are now.

This is just like the 2002-03 Isiah Thomas-coached Pacers, who ran out to the league’s best record the first half of the season, then sleep-walked the rest of the season before getting eliminated in the first round by the Boston Celtics.

For too long, they’ve been acting like they actually accomplished something, like they should be entitled to officials’ calls and special treatment. Paul George’s play and his whining have been especially galling. Remember when we talked about him in the same sentence with MVP front runners LeBron James and Kevin Durant? That seems like a million years ago.

George has been ordinary, or worse, since the All-Star break. Hibbert has disappeared for long stretches of time. David West, the nominal leader of this team, has been inconsistent. Evan Turner, the late-season acquisition, has been miserable, especially on defense.

Monday night, Lance Stephenson was the only Pacer who played with urgency and energy.

Pacers keep losing on road, fall to Cavs

David West

Sitting in the last chair on Indiana’s bench, David West stared straight ahead, unable to look at the court.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock on another disheartening loss, West seemed dazed.

The Pacers’ promising season is unraveling

Dion Waiters scored 19 points, Luol Deng added 15 and the Cleveland Cavaliers kept their playoff push going with a 90-76 win Sunday over the skidding Pacers, who are losing their grip on the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Tristan Thompson had 16 rebounds as the Cavs snapped a nine-game losing streak against Indiana. Cleveland came in three games behind slumping, idle Atlanta for the conference’s final playoff spot. With seven games left — six against teams with losing records — the Cavs still have a chance.

The Pacers, meanwhile, are falling apart. They lost their fifth straight road game and now lead Miami by one game for the East’s top record and home-court advantage throughout the postseason.

– Associated Press

The Pacers edged the Heat 84-83 on Wednesday. Both LeBron James and Paul George put up big games for their squads. Here are some video highlights:

Here’s the Chicago Sun-Times reporting on the Bulls:

Pick an excuse: lack of depth, bad calls, missed shots, poor rebounding, flopping. The list went on and on for the Bulls on Friday night.

The Bulls are still a feel-good story, but not every story has a happy ending. Certainly not in Indiana.

Thanks to a 19-0 run in the third quarter, the Pacers pulled away from the Bulls in a 91-79 laugher.

And, as coach Tom Thibodeau pointed out, losing the rebounding battle 51-36 is never a good thing. And reserve big man Taj Gibson fouling out because the Pacers have “floppers’’ doesn’t help. But depth seemed to be the difference. It was a big reason why Indiana (51-18) outscored the Bulls 31-19 in the third quarter to put the game on ice.

“You can use that as an excuse if you want,’’ Thibodeau said when asked about the Bulls’ lack of depth being exposed. “I choose not to.”

Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George had 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists in a win against the Bulls Friday. Video highlights:

Center Andrew Bynum is alive. No longer sitting on the end of the Indiana Pacers bench watching basketball but not playing it, Bynum has finally stepped onto the court. Here’s how he started off:

Andrew Bynum may make Pacers debut soon

Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting on center Andrew Bynum, who for now as a member of the Pacers has merely been an observer. But that could soon change:

Andrew Bynum may make Pacers debut soon

Andrew Bynum could make his debut with the Indiana Pacers soon.

On Sunday, Bynum said that he hopes to be “cleared to play next week,” believing that he could be on the floor by Friday, March 14 when the Pacers play in Philadelphia. Pacers coach Frank Vogel said the team planned to re-evaluate Bynum after the road trip.

“We’ll see after (Sunday’s) game goes and then we’ll probably meet about it (Monday),” Vogel said, “and try to come up with a firmer plan.”

Through his career, Bynum, a 7-0 center, has shown flashes of dominance but has also been limited with knee problems.

George Hill out with recurring shoulder injury

Indiana Pacers point guard George Hill (bruised left shoulder) missed his fourth game of the season on Saturday night.

Hill was injured with less than 2 minutes remaining in the Pacers’ win over Milwaukee on Thursday night. Hill said that an MRI revealed “previous stuff,” referencing the sprained left shoulder injury from the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season that sidelined him for two games.

“Messing with ‘Psycho T’ (former teammate Tyler Hansbrough) in practice,” Hill said Saturday, recalling that original injury. “Got tangled up with him. I hurt it pretty bad … so I think it’s just a recurred injury that just opened back up just a little bit.”

– Indianapolis Star

Here’s the Indianapolis Star with insight on the Pacers trade of Danny Granger to the Philadelphia 76ers:

Larry Bird discusses Pacers trade of Danny Granger

Pacers president Larry Bird didn’t begin negotiations on the Evan Turner-Danny Granger trade until 2:30 p.m., 30 minutes before Thursday’s trade deadline.

*Philly was trying to get a first-round pick for Turner and, when that didn’t manifest, Bird said the 76ers reached out to the Pacers.

“They wanted to move him and we were there and we took it. I had to think about it for a while but decided to do it (and) move on.”

*Bird said that rather matter of factly, but it was somewhat hard for him because “Danny’s always been my favorite,” Bird said.

*Bird insists that there was “no shopping around” of Granger but the last-minute proposition with Philly had to be considered.

Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting on new backup center Andrew Bynum:

Andrew Bynum says he will play hard for Pacers

As Andrew Bynum appeared from the basketball court on Friday morning to meet with reporters for the first time since becoming an Indiana Pacer, his new teammate George Hill marveled at the scene.

“L.A. media!” Hill joked loud enough to be heard.

Only Bynum did not reply – just as he has ignored the lingering doubts about his desire to play basketball.

“I mean, people have opinions, I don’t respond to it,” Bynum said. “I just go out and play.

“Again, that’s what they’re going to say. All I can do is go play hard and put points by your name, that’s it.”

After the Pacers’ morning shootaround, Bynum, the 7-2 center, remained calm as much smaller members of the media hedged him in. For more than five minutes, Bynum answered a range of questions about his commitment to the game, his desire to join the Pacers and even what went south during his short stay in Cleveland.

Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting on new Indiana Pacers center Andrew Bynum, who is apparently too talented and has too much potential upside for NBA teams to give up on:

andrew bynum

Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird disagrees with criticism that controversial 7-1, 285-pound center Andrew Bynum could be a disruption to the team’s culture and locker room.

The Pacers signed the controversial 26-year-old center Saturday. Bynum, who has struggled with knee injuries throughout his career, landed with his fifth team after being traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers then waived by the Chicago Bulls last month.

“We’ve got protection for Roy (Hibbert) and Ian (Mahinmi) and we’ll see how it works out,” Bird said. “I think it’s a great upside for us, we don’t do anything that we don’t think is going to help us and I think this is going to help us.

East NBA All-Star head coach announced

At 30-7, the Indiana Pacers have the best record in the NBA. With a very average offense but the best defense in the league on a per-possession basis, the squad is making the most of their talent.

On Tuesday, the NBA announced that Pacers head coach Frank Vogel has earned the role of 2014 East NBA All-Star head coach.

Not-so-bold prediction: Vogel’s East All-Stars will display a lot more offense than his Pacers.

More info: Frank Vogel will be head coach of 2014 East NBA All-Star team

Here’s the Indianapolis Star on veteran Rasual Butler enjoying himself as a member of the Indiana Pacers. Butler plays just 5.8 minutes per game, but he’s a part of a winning team with legit championship aspirations.

Rasual Butler happy to be with Pacers

Butler has recaptured his NBA career just by staying ready.

During 2011-12, he was waived by the Toronto Raptors and remained without an NBA job for the entire next season. Butler had bounced around five teams in 10 years, thought of as just a spot-up shooter and possibly, one close advocate believes, considered a veteran who wasn’t worth the trouble.

Forget one foot, Butler had nine toes out of the very exclusive club that no basketball player ever wants to be escorted away from. But he remained humble, hungry and, most of all, ready. After a year spent remaking his body then accepting the lowly assignments of Development League standout and Summer League old head, Butler has returned to the NBA.

“You don’t get too many of those,” says Geo Aispuro, the basketball trainer who worked out with Butler for nearly a year so he could return to the NBA. “You get a lot of guys that drop out but you just never get those guys that drop out and get back into the league.”

Butler has this old soul about him. He speaks like a late-night DJ spinning jazz records and even breaks up the uncensored jocularity in the Pacers’ locker room whenever he feels the ribbing could go too far. Butler carries the sophistication of well-traveled diplomat and shares wisdom like the neighborhood lifer. But really, he’s just a man who’s seen his share of twists and turns and now feels grateful for this time of stability.

Paul Pierce fined for hard foul on George Hill

Brooklyn Nets forward Paul Pierce has been fined $15,000 for making excessive and unnecessary contact with George Hill of the Indiana Pacers, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, which was called a Flagrant Foul 2, occurred with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter of the Nets’ 103-86 loss the Pacers on Monday Dec. 23, at Barclays Center.

Danny Granger finally back for Pacers

Here’s the Indianapolis Star reporting on the Pacers getting even stronger:

Danny Granger finally back for Pacers

Danny Granger’s absence for most of the past 18 months caused some angst among Indiana Pacers fans. They wondered how the team’s top player for so many years would fit in with a group that was doing quite nicely without him.

But no matter the misgivings, they showered him with love when he played for the first time this season during a 114-81 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Granger, who missed the first 25 games because of a calf strain, went to the scorer’s table along with Luis Scola to check in with about 4½ minutes left in the first quarter. The sellout crowd of 18,165 started cheering loudly and Area 55 — the fan section sponsored by teammate Roy Hibbert — started a “Danny, Danny” chant that quickly spread.

He got a standing ovation when he officially checked in with 4:05 remaining. He made his presence felt on the defensive end, coming from the weak side to block a shot by Houston’s Dwight Howard.

Yeah, by now you’re probably bored of hearing “Danny Granger set to return!” stories. But this time it’s happening. Probably. At 19-3, the Indiana Pacers don’t seem to need any additional help, but they’ll soon receive it. Here’s ESPN.com on it:

Danny Granger should play soon for Pacers

Danny Granger has played in only five games over the past two seasons for the Indiana Pacers, but he’s hoping to make his return this week.

Granger said he won’t play in Tuesday’s game against the Miami Heat and instead is targeting Friday’s home game with the Charlotte Bobcats as he recovers from a calf injury that’s kept him out of the team’s first 21 games. He was limited to five games last season because of a knee injury.

“There’s a very good chance, hopefully on Friday,” Granger said. “I’m conditioning my legs, getting my wind. The knee is not an issue at all. The calf is pretty good now.”

After Granger experienced several setbacks over the past year, the Pacers aren’t committing themselves as strongly to the return.

The Indiana Pacers have been great this season, and getting Danny Granger back, even if he’s not the player he used to be, would make them even deeper. Here’s the Indianapolis Star:

Danny Granger returns to practice for Pacers

The unexpected continues on the Indiana Pacers’ eventful trip to Texas: Danny Granger practiced.

“I feel good,” Granger said following the Friday session, his first live participation in weeks. “I was running, sprinting, playing live for about an hour, so I felt really good.”

Since Oct. 28, when the team announced that Granger would miss approximately three weeks with a strained left calf, the sight of the veteran forward had been limited to post-practice shooting drills and sideline cheering. The team’s timeline has long since expired and Granger has missed all 19 games this season.

Though he practiced, Pacers coach Frank Vogel announced that Granger would not play Saturday against the San Antonio Spurs. Vogel said there is no new timeline for Granger’s return to the lineup.

The Indiana Pacers were expected to be good this season, but they’ve exceeded expectations, and look as legit an NBA championship contender as anybody. But as for what they’ve done so far, here’s the Indianapolis Star with some history:

Thirty teams have begun a season 8-0. The 12 that had their streaks snapped in the ninth game averaged 55.5 wins. The over-under on victories for the Pacers this preseason, according to Bovada Sportsbook? 54.5.

“Just taking it in stride,” coach Frank Vogel said.

Eight of the 30 teams won titles and four others reached the Finals. It includes legendary teams such as the 1996-97 Bulls, 2007-08 Celtics and 1987-88 Lakers. But it also includes a 1979-80 Portland team that finished with a losing record and Seattle in 1993-94, which started 10-0, finished 63-19 and was the first No. 1 seed to lose in the first round, getting upset by No. 8 Denver.

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