News and notes ahead of the Pacers’ five-game road trip
So much has occurred over the last few days and things aren’t slowing down anytime soon for the league-leading Indiana Pacers. They have a busy week ahead, featuring five road games in nine days.
Before that gets underway, here are some news and notes with the team:
— Coach Frank Vogel said what the team is going through, five games on the road after a four-game homestand, is much like the change of seasons. In winter you’re waiting for spring, in the summer you embrace the fall and you like the first time is snows each year. ”Now we’ve been home for 10 days, I think some guys are excited about getting on the road a little bit,” he said.
— On these long road trips, the first game is key because it sets the tone for the trip. “Most important, absolutely,” David West reaffirmed.
— For the second straight year, the Pacers are playing on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Last year, they were in Memphis. The Pacers, like the rest of the league, will be wearing these special shooting shirts — and many guys will choose to wear purple shoes.
— Monday is the last day to submit your votes for the 63rd NBA All-Star game. Starters will be announced during a one-hour TNT special this Thursday, at 8 p.m. EST. The conference coaches then fill out the rest of the rosters.
— The team will see many familiar faces along their journey. First, it’s former Pacers point guard extraordinaire Mark Jackson, who’s in his third season as Warriors head coach. Then, Luis Scola returns to Phoenix, the team he played for last season. Miles Plumlee and Gerald Green, who were sent there in a trade for Scola, have been playing well as the Suns are one of the big surprises in the NBA. Many Pacers players still stay in touch with them. On Saturday, the Pacers take on the Denver Nuggets with former associate head coach Brian Shaw on the opposite bench.
— After the Pacers play in Phoenix on Wednesday, they will be exactly halfway through the 2013-14 regular season. Since it they’ll still be mid-trip, Vogel doesn’t plan to evaluate the first half of the season until they return on Jan. 29.
— Paul George was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday for his outstanding play last week. He averaged 30.7 points per game, shot 58 percent, made 19-of-20 free throws and helped the Pacers to three victories by an average of 22 points. It was his second time this season earning that honor.
— One more take from Paul George on his spectacular 360 windmill dunk from Saturday: “My teammates always joke around saying I’m a practice dunker and I’m boring on the fast break so I had to make sure I got into the trick bag and brought something out.”
— Why is Paul George a Broncos fan, you may wonder? “Because of my dad,” he explained. “My dad played at San Fernando Valley and John Elway went to Granada Hills and that was my dad’s rival playing football in high school. When John Elway went on to go to the professionals, my dad followed him his whole career and (thus) I wind up being a Broncos fan because of John Elway.”
— Paul George is in high demand for the All-Star game. He has been asked to participate in All-Star Saturday, and though it’s doubtful he does, he plans to make a decision in the next few days. Click here for more on this story.