Lance Stephenson came off the bench to score a career-high 12 points with five rebounds and three assists to help the Pacers beat the Altlanta Hawks 96 – 84. Two Days after Head Coach Frank Vogel announced that Stephenson will be the full time backup point guard.
There won’t be any controversy surrounding the backup point guard position when Lance Stephenson returns from his sprained left ankle.
Indiana Pacers coach Frank Vogel said Saturday that Stephenson will resume his role of checking in for starting point guard Darren Collison late in the first quarter or early in the second. A.J. Price, who has handled that role the past two games, will go back to the end of the bench.
“We’re committed (to Stephenson),” Vogel said. “That kid is a talented kid. He’s going to be a tremendous weapon for us at some point. He’s still got to get his feet wet. He saw virtually no time last year, so he’s essentially a rookie from an experience standpoint.
“I’m very committed to seeing him develop and looking forward to him taking advantage of his skills when he starts to come around.”
Stephenson, who appeared in 12 games last season, missed his second straight game because of a tender left ankle.
The offense hasn’t run as smoothly when Stephenson has been on the court and he continues to adjust to running the offense. The second unit, with Price at point guard, was one of the reasons the Pacers won in Boston for the first time in almost four years Friday night.
Price pushed the tempo and made sure the ball always stayed moving.
“A.J. Price can play,” Vogel said. “The offense flows when he’s in the game. The ball moves, he’s a great passer, a great leader of the team. I’m very glad he’s on our team, too.”
Price added, “It felt terrific. Throughout the whole process, I just tried to stay professional and make sure I was ready when my number was called.”
Price is going through an adjustment period after playing in 106 games his first two seasons. He ended each of the past two seasons as the backup to Collison and Earl Watson.
“It’s always tough when you’re not playing, but that comes with being professional,” Price said. “Everything takes care of itself in due time. I’m just working, progressing and trying to get better every single day. The rest will take care of itself.”