That's not a slump, it's tradition
Oct 12, 2008
Danny Granger's little shooting funk isn't a concern. In fact, it has become something of a preseason tradition.
Granger has shot 2-of-17 in the first two preseason games, missing all six of his 3-point attempts. He was limited to 15 minutes (and 1-of-6 shooting) by a sore left foot in the 102-95 victory over Chicago Friday in Fort Wayne, Ind., but will play Monday when the Pacers travel to Memphis to face the Grizzlies.
"I'm not concerned at all," Granger said after practice Sunday at Conseco Fieldhouse. "I started off last preseason even worse than this (going 14-of-45 through the first four games). As a matter of fact, I started off bad two years ago, too. It's sort of become my routine."
Any thoughts as to why?
"I don't know," Granger said. "But I know I can shoot."
As does Coach Jim O'Brien. The Pacers haven't shot well as a team from the 3-point line, going 5-of-33 (.152) but he has no doubt the numbers will turn around.
"Zero concern," O'Brien said. "It's early. We're shooting 15 percent from the three. We're going to shoot high-30s from the three. I don't worry about shooting. I know these guys can flat-out shoot. Danny's one of the better shooters in the league so I don't worry about his ability to put the ball in the basket."
No word from Jones on his intentions
Eddie Jones did not join the Pacers for Sunday's practice in Conseco Fieldhouse and is not expected to meet them Monday in Memphis. It's uncertain if the 36-year-old veteran acquired Friday from Dallas in the Shawne Williams will report at all.
"He was in a situation that he wasn't in Dallas' camp," said O'Brien. "We would like him in our camp and we would like him on our team unless he decides he doesn't want to play. And then that's something that Larry (Bird) and his agent are going to have to talk about. We anticipate seeing where he is and getting him up here."
Does O'Brien believe Jones could help the Pacers?
"Until I'm told differently, that's my viewpoint," said the coach. "My anticipation is that we just made a trade and we got a player in the trade and we expect any player we trade for to report. If they don't, then there's an issue. But I'm expecting him to be here and to play. That's my expectation. We expect him in here unless he decides to not be in here an then that's out of my hands and it comes down to his agent and our management."
When the Mavericks were hammering out the details of the trade that would bring Jason Kidd from the Nets last February, Jones' name was mentioned in the deal. At that time, Jones said he would refuse to report to New Jersey if dealt. "There is no next stop for me," he told The Dallas Morning News. "I'll go home."
Jones has been bothered by a hamstring injury through training camp and the early stages of the preseason.
The Pacers also received two second-round picks from Dallas, the 2009 selection and either the 2010 or 2011 choices; the option belongs to the Mavs.
Dunleavy back at practice
Mike Dunleavy participated in his first practice of the preseason Sunday. Though he didn't go through the full workout, it was nevertheless an indication he's getting close to recovering from the troublesome sore right knee.
O'Brien said he expected Dunleavy to return to full-time practice at some point this week but would "probably not" play Monday. Others expected to sit out the Memphis game are Marquis Daniels (strained left groin), Troy Murphy (sore left Achilles tendon) and Travis Diener (sore left foot). Stephen Graham (strained right groin) is expected to play.
With four games in six nights this week (Monday in Memphis, Wednesday at home against Dallas, Friday at home against the Grizzlies and Saturday in San Antonio), the Pacers will need all the healthy bodies they can get.
"You make sure you stay conditioned," O'Brien said. "We had a good hard practice today and we just make sure we utilize the morning of games to practice hard because in the preseason you really have to work on your conditioning through the games. Right now, I'd rather practice than play games but since we're playing games we need to utilize those mornings of the games for hard practices."
Defensive energy praised by O'Brien
Rebounding nicely from a 34-point blowout loss in the preseason opener, the Pacers played much more as O'Brien expected in Fort Wayne. They committed a modest 15 turnovers, shot .468 from the field and had 20 assists. Defensively, they limited the Bulls to .407 shooting and forced 19 turnovers.
"We did a lot of very positive things," O'Brien said. "We played for the majority of the game at the defensive energy level that we think is a good stepping-stone. It's not where we need to be but certainly the energy level was great, our hands were good, we took good pride in not letting the basketball into the paint and we did some very positive things offensively. We executed."
The key to the defense, said the coach, was active hands.
"They had an early lead in the first half and for the first six minutes of the first quarter we had no deflections. Then we got 25 the rest of the half, which is unbelievable, and we get a seven-point lead," he said. "They take a lead in the beginning of the third quarter; in the first six minutes, we had no deflections. And then we caught ourselves and down the stretch our hands became very active, we started turning them over and we won. Their hands have to be used as a weapon, not as a fouling instrument. We're at our best when we're active with our hands."