There wasn’t any loud music blaring or players bouncing around celebrating inside the locker room.
That’s because the Indiana Pacers only took one step, albeit a much needed one, when they beat the Dallas Mavericks 103-83 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday night.
The Pacers know they still have a lot of work to do. They simply needed something to get them jump started after a handful of close defeats and a blowout loss to Milwaukee two nights earlier.
“I just thought we played a little harder, played a little smarter and did what we had to in terms of our execution,” Pacers forward David West said. “We can’t overreact. We have to continue to get better. Obviously we are not where we want to be. We have to continue to improve. That has to be our mindset.”
Coach Frank Vogel knew change was necessary, too. That’s why when the Pacers took the court for their shootaround Friday morning he surprised his players by scrapping the offensive system that wasn’t working during the first nine games and implementing a system that pushes the tempo and has constant ball movement.
A 60-minute practice session provided the Pacers with their second highest point total of the season, a season low in turnovers and all five starters scoring in double figures.
“This could be a changing factor with our team,” Pacers swingman Paul George said. “It’s a huge relief. We let a lot of games go. It was good to come out early and jump on them.”
Vogel had the change the offense because too often there was more standing around and watching instead of cutting and moving.
That’s fine if you have a Kevin Durant or LeBron James on your roster to carry you.
The Pacers don’t have a player that can create his own shot. They have to use a team approach, and in order for that to work there has to be trust in one another.
“We talked about re-establishing a belief in ourselves as a basketball team, belief in ourselves individually that we’re capable of doing great things,” Vogel said. “And continue to believe in teammates that are struggling and that’s an important element in getting yourself out of a rut.
“Getting a team out of a rut is to continue to trust that we have good players on this team that when the ball moves and we’re sharing it and we’re playing for each other that we’re going to be pretty good.”
That trust was on display in the third quarter when the Pacers blew the game open.
Guard Lance Stephenson scored 10 of his 12 points in the third quarter to help the Pacers overcome a halftime deficit.
Stephenson made both of his 3-pointers during the quarter when West and George Hill passed up shots to make the extra pass to get an even better shot.
Stephenson’s second 3-pointer gave the Pacers a 14-point lead and had him backpedaling down the court blowing on his three fingers.
The Pacers outscored the Mavericks 28-18 in the third quarter and eventually led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers also got a lift from Sam Young off the bench because his teammates believed in him to make shots.
Young, who has had trouble passing the ball and making shots beyond five feet of the basket, scored 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting in 21 minutes.
“(The new offense) opens up the door for a lot of our players to be creative and just play basketball,” Hill said. “I think in our last offense we were thinking too much, ball wasn’t moving, staying on one side of the floor. This new offense demands for the ball to move from side to side. You have to tip your hat to the coaching staff.”