Pacers compete with each other for rebounds
By Candace Buckner, firstname.lastname@example.org
8:24 a.m. EST January 29, 2014
LOS ANGELES – Sharing in basketball can be more than just teammates passing the ball. The frontcourt players for the Indiana Pacers often find themselves sharing space underneath the glass.
There's an anomaly on the Indiana roster. Guard Lance Stephenson (7.0 rebounds per game) averages almost as many boards as 7-2 center Roy Hibbert (7.8). Stephenson's numbers have also trumped power forward David West (6.6 rebounds), but Pacers coach Frank Vogel explains this discrepancy.
"Lance steals them all from Roy anyway," Vogel said. "Roy is ready to get them and Lance comes in from the 3-point line off two feet. We all compete for the glass. We have all five guys on the defensive glass."
The Pacers rank just above the middle of pack in rebounding, averaging 53.3 per game compared to their league-best 54.5 average during the 2012-13 season.
"This is indicative of the sacrifice of this team," Vogel said. "A lot of times, (the bigs), they're sacrificing themselves to wipe out the best rebounders on the other team while the guards come back and get the numbers.
"It's a sacrifice," Vogel continued, "more than anything."
No Laker love
Although it's rare, the fact that Paul George did not grow up as a Lakers fan makes some sense. While George hails from California, his hometown of Palmdale will never be confused as Los Angeles.
However, George isn't the only Southern California native inside the Pacers' locker room who as a child could not have cared less about the Lakers.
Rookie Solomon Hill – a true Los Angeles native – felt no nostalgia in playing against the legendary hometown team for the first time.
"No, definitely not," Hill responded when asked if he grew up a Lakers fan. "I didn't really have a team.
"I never really liked the Lakers."
Before anyone labels Hill a "hater," understand his reasons. Hill, who has been praised for his maturity at the young age of 22, watched NBA games and carried aspirations of becoming a professional basketball player as a kid. Since he rarely noticed rookies playing for the Lakers, Hill scratched the team off his list.
"I never was a Lakers fan," Hill said. "I'm thinking as a player and not as a fan what team I would want to go to and the Lakers (were) never really that team.
"It all comes with winning championships. You don't have time to develop rookies because you're trying to win every year and I understand that, but as a player you want to be some place that will let you develop."
Coincidentally, Hill has landed on a team with similarly high expectations as those previous Lakers teams. As the Pacers push for a run to the title, the rotation consists of veterans and leaves little playing time for the younger players. For the 15th time, Hill was on the inactive list.
Good bench, bad team
Sometimes, numbers lie.
Last season, the Indiana bench stood out as a weakness as the reserves averaged the second fewest points in the NBA. But a high scoring clip does not necessarily equate to success.
Before Tuesday night, the Lakers reserves have outscored opposing benches 32 times in 45 games and the unit ranks second overall in bench scoring at 41.6 points per game. However, the strong bench has not helped the overall team production.
Los Angeles started the night tied for second worst record in the Western Conference. When asked if staying out of last place was a motivator, Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni quipped: "Because being 14th is great?"
Call Star reporter Candace Buckner at (317) 444-6121. Follow her on Twitter: @CandaceDBuckner.