Rush or Dunleavy?
Shooting guards are interchangeable, coach says
PHOENIX -- Indiana Pacers coach Jim O'Brien
doesn't think people should read too much into Brandon Rush
starting at shooting guard in three of the four games during the team's trip, which wrapped up Friday at Phoenix.
O'Brien said he's comfortable with either Rush or Mike Dunleavy
The opponent will usually determine whom O'Brien goes with as the starting shooting guard.
"It's irrelevant to me who starts," O'Brien said. "It doesn't matter to me at all because I don't think it's important."
O'Brien started Rush during the three games because he wanted him to guard Kobe Bryant
of the Lakers, Deron Williams
of Utah and Jason Richardson
The Pacers are 3-2 with Rush starting. Before his 21-point effort in Friday's game, Rush was averaging 15.0 points as a starter and only 9.0 points as a reserve. Dunleavy (16 points Friday) was averaging 13.1 points as a starter, 8.3 as a reserve.
"I don't think this is a team where I need to stroke anybody's ego," O'Brien said. "The lineups with Brandon and Michael starting are both successful for us."
Dunleavy and Rush each said starting does not make a difference because of their three-man rotation, which includes Danny Granger
"Honestly, it really doesn't matter," Rush said. "I know I'm going to get minutes every game. So it's not an issue to me."
Watching LeBron's return, too
Just like most sports fans around the country, many of the Pacers spent their off night in Phoenix Thursday watching the much-anticipated return of LeBron James
to Cleveland, where he played the first seven years of his career.
"I definitely watched it," Granger said. "I was curious to see what the reaction was going to be. I just wish it was a better game."
James was booed and taunted throughout the game as expected after he gave Cleveland the cold shoulder and decided to sign with the Miami Heat last summer.
James got the last laugh, accumulating 38 points, five rebounds and eight assists in the Heat's blowout victory.
"I wanted to see the craziness of the whole situation," Dunleavy said. "Regardless of what would have happened, you would have been left with the feeling of feeling bad for Cleveland that he left, because they had such a good thing going before he left. In some ways you feel bad for LeBron, too, because he's never going to make anybody happy. It's almost like a lose, lose situation."
O'Brien activated all three of his point guards for the first time this season. Veteran center Jeff Foster
, who has appeared in only two games this season, joined rookies Lance Stephenson
and Paul George
on the inactive list.
O'Brien said he activated A.J. Price
because he was inclined to go with a small lineup, which meant sliding Josh McRoberts
to center rather than using an extra big man.