http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/blog_brunner.htmlPotential "X-factor" Stephenson begins NBA journey
Feb. 28, 2011
There is a long road to travel and many lessons to be learned but at least the journey has begun for Lance Stephenson.
The talented second-round pick made his NBA debut Sunday in the Pacers' 110-108 overtime loss to Phoenix, playing 4 minutes, 17 seconds before heading to the bench gasping for air.
"I need to get in better shape," Stephenson said. "I've got to get in game shape. I'm in practice shape right now."
Coach Frank Vogel has decided to begin Stephenson's initiation process with small steps.
"He’s getting his feet wet," Vogel said. "We’ll bring him along slow. You’ll probably see more of what we did (Sunday) till we start getting more comfortable and then we’ll decide whether next game he may play (shooting guard). … Just where we are at, just take it as it goes.
"We’ve felt all along that he can help us, that he is going to be a heck of a player, a heck of a talent. We think during this playoff stretch and in the playoffs he could be a bit of an X-factor, a sizable point guard like that or even what he could do at the two. We just thought it was his time."
At 6-5, 220 pounds, Stephenson has the size and strength of a shooting guard but the quickness and creativity of a point guard. Ultimately he could offer the Pacers an important option off the bench when they need to match up against bigger backcourts or when they need instant offense.
Big talent, however, doesn't always translate to big productivity in the NBA. Stephenson must show a grasp of the offense and a commitment to improving his defense.
"He competes really hard, like any rookie," said Vogel. "He's still picking up rotations. There hasn't been a lot of practice time since training camp so it's going to be a work in progress. He's familiar with everything we do it's just a matter of getting the reps.
"What he's got to gain is the cohesiveness with his teammates and the speed of the NBA game, which he's used to."
Stephenson made it clear that, after waiting 57 games for the chance to play at all, he's ready for whatever role Vogel envisions.
"Whenever coach wants me to play," he said, "I'm going to be happy with the minutes he gives me."
When Stephenson scored his first NBA points in a pair of free throws with 11:17 left in the first quarter, his family threw confetti in the air to mark the occasion.
The Pacers hope it was just the beginning of many more good times to come.
http://www.foxsportsmidwest.com/02/2...53&feedID=3904By Conrad Brunner
Feb. 28, 2011
INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Lance Stephenson may well become the team's third guard of the future. For the present, however, A.J. Price is handling the role quite nicely.
Stephenson made his NBA debut Sunday, playing 4 minutes, 17 seconds in a 110-108 overtime loss to Phoenix. But Price was the Indiana Pacers' most important player, playing the final 20 minutes and guiding the team through a pair of comebacks before falling short at the finish.
Indiana trailed 82-67 late in the third quarter but Price engineered a 19-7 run, scoring 11 of the points – including three 3-pointers – to get the home team back in the game. He finished with 18 points, five rebounds and an assist in just under 25 minutes.
"A.J. Price is good enough to be a starter in this league," said Coach Frank Vogel. "I’m never surprised when he gives us a lift and I’ll always stay with a guy that’s red hot. And he was."
Price had been mired in a shooting slump, going 0-of-12 from the 3-point line and 7-of-31 overall in the previous four games, but a midnight shooting session at Conseco Fieldhouse Saturday helped get his game realigned.
He made 4-of-6 from the arc against the Suns.
“My job is to come in, give energy and (Sunday) was to make (Steve) Nash work hard on both ends of the floor," said Price. "He’s a great player. I just wanted to come in and change tempo, try to play at a fast pace and do what I've been doing all year."
A second-round pick in 2009, Price watched as 2010 second-rounder Stephenson made his first appearance with 2:10 left in the first quarter. He wound up totaling a little more than four minutes of playing time.
Because of Stephenson's size (6-5, 220) and athleticism, Vogel envisions him as a potential difference-maker down the stretch if he can quickly become accustomed to the speed of the NBA game at both ends of the floor.
"We're going to have sort of a process of getting his feet wet and getting him comfortable," Vogel said. "He's our third point guard and we don't want to get in a situation where he hasn't played all year and we need him. We also think he could be an X-factor for us down the stretch."
Stephenson said he is ready for "any role coach wants me to play," but he first must work on his conditioning. He was gasping for breath when removed from the game early in the second quarter.
"I need to get in better shape," he said. "I've got to get in game shape. I'm in practice shape right now."
From now on, he'll get that opportunity.
My favorite parts have been bolded.
I am excited about Lance Stephenson as I was there to see him play. He's got very deceptive quickness and he has the strength of a linebacker.
AJ Price is a very good defender. I love watching AJ play when he's on. He's a "True point." His play is crucial to our success. Before TJ Ford was holding us back, and now our back up point guard spot is a positive instead of a negative.