HOUSTON -- Indiana Pacers rookie point guard A.J. Price will play again this season.
Coach Jim O'Brien plans to put Price, who already has turned into a fan favorite, back in the rotation at some point during the final 27 games of the season.
When that's going to happen is anybody's guess right now.
O'Brien said he prefers to stick with veterans T.J. Ford and Earl Watson for the time being because he likes the defensive intensity the two bring.
"(Price) will get his minutes," O'Brien said. "Earl and T.J. by far give us defensively what every coach would want, and I think defensive intensity is a key ingredient for us."
Price got his shot in the rotation when Ford was demoted from starter to third string in late December.
Price showed the Pacers may have gotten a steal in the second round when he averaged 9.3 points and 2.6 assists in 21 games while in the rotation.
His spot in the rotation became complicated when Ford played well in the two games before the All-Star break while Watson was away dealing with a death in the family.
Price hasn't played since Feb. 6 at Milwaukee.
"I have to handle it like a professional," he said. "It's how it goes sometimes. I know as a rookie, especially, things are going to be up and down. I'm just trying to stay professional and be ready and take it for what it is."
The Pacers were impressed with the way Price ran the pick-and-roll.
Two things that stood out, according to O'Brien, is Price's defense and assist-to-turnover ratio (1.68-1). O'Brien said Price needs to get better defensively, which will come with more playing time.
"He showed some positives and some negatives," O'Brien said. "He showed the ability to shoot the basketball and space the court. I think he got some good experience playing some good guards in the league. He's ahead of the program for where he was drafted."
There's no reason to believe Price won't get back in the rotation, especially since the Pacers are on their way to having a lottery pick in this summer's draft.
"Playing did a lot for me," he said. "It did a lot for me on how I'm perceived by the organization and the rest of the league. It showed I'm able to play in this league."