Pacers chose to wait to play Stephenson

OKLAHOMA CITY — It was no coincidence that rookie Lance Stephenson‘s debut with the Indiana Pacers came after his legal issues were resolved.

The Pacers, who have had a number of players go through off-court problems in the past, waited until Stephenson’s case in New York was dismissed last week before letting him play for the first time.

“We’re trying to do the right thing in terms of his court case and waiting to see what happened with that,” Pacers interim coach Frank Vogel said. “Now that the charges were dismissed, we feel better about what we’re doing for this organization as a whole.”

Stephenson was ready to put his latest off-court issues behind him, too, saying he has been “wanting to move on from it.”

Vogel is trying to give Stephenson, who wanted to stay with the Pacers rather than play in the NBA Development League this season, minutes at both guard spots.

Stephenson isn’t shy about shooting the ball. He went into Wednesday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder having attempted eight shots in only 18 minutes. He had 11 points, six rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes Wednesday.

“The more he grows, we’ll see how he does and how much we’re going to use him,” Vogel said. “He could be a good factor down the stretch.”

Stephenson, who is confident in his ability, said conditioning has been one of his biggest issues.

“That and when I get my confidence level up, it’ll be easy,” he said.

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