INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Just when the Pacers new offense finally found its projected mojo, the defense is coming apart at the seams.
In their current 3-game skid, Indiana’s given up an average of 125 points a game. You can’t win consistently letting that happen.
“We just gotta tighten the screws up a little bit, something we’re used to doing around here,” said coach Frank Vogel.
He put his team through a pair of defensive-minded practices after the Golden State loss and before Friday’s Miami game. The team knows they need the work.
“We were struggling in Portland and Utah, then the Warriors exposed those flaws that we had defensively,” said Paul George, the team’s top defender. “It’s kinda good that we got our butts kicked to go back to the drawing board and clean things up.”
Center Ian Mahinmi, who’s defensive-minded game has seen a new look agrees. “We emphasized some of the stuff that we used to do very good, and we’ve been doing a poor job at it, we’ve been correcting most of it during two hard days of practice.”
See if it pays off at the Fieldhouse Friday night.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Pacers coach Frank Vogel is facing the biggest challenge of his career.
He must rebuild a team that nearly reached the NBA Finals twice in the past three seasons. He’ll have a new starting lineup, a revamped roster and a different offensive philosophy.
The first pieces of the puzzle will be put in place starting Thursday when league rules allow teams to officially announce trades and sign free agents.
Indiana has already agreed to terms with two of its own players, backup guard Rodney Stuckey and big man Lavoy Allen, as well as former Dallas guard Monta Ellis. David West is gone and the Pacers are expected to trade two-time All-Star center Roy Hibbert.
After that, Vogel must make it all work out.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/AP) – David Letterman is closing out his career on what’s being proclaimed as David Letterman Day in his hometown.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has issued a proclamation declaring Wednesday to be David Letterman Day. The final episode of the “Late Show with David Letterman” will air that night.
The proclamation issued Tuesday notes Letterman graduated from Broad Ripple High School and Ball State University in nearby Muncie, worked as a local television weatherman and is a co-owner of the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing IndyCar team.
It also mentions Letterman once worked as a bagger at the now closed Atlas Supermarket and that the “Stupid Human Tricks” segment on the “Late Show” once featured future Indiana Pacers Coach Frank Vogel brushing his teeth with a spinning basketball on the end of his toothbrush.
Indianapolis Power and Light will scroll a message reading “Thanks Dave” across its building on Monument Circle starting at 4 a.m. Wednesday. The message will also appear later that evening around sunset.
View some of Letterman’s best moments below:
The full David Letterman Day proclamation is below:
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — He may be best known for one of the top dunks of the college basketball season, but Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant is ready to take it to the next level.
He and a handful of others were invited to the Pacers first pre-draft camp workout, where the guys took to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse court in front of Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh and Frank Vogel.
With the draft set for June, the nerves were there.
“You definitely have to keep your nerves in check,” said Grant. “You want to go out there and just play, not really think about anything, just play the game you love. It’s so close, it’s hard to, but when just once you get out there, it’s just basketball.””
At 6-5, Grant looks like a combo guard who has the shooting skills and the passing prowess to play with guys like George Hill in the Pacers backcourt, a position of need for Indiana.
“I think so,” added Grant. “I think I bring a lot of playmaking skills, get guys better looks and making guys around me look better.”
The Pacers camp was the first of what he hopes are a handful of NBA team camps where he can show off his first round draft talent, and the Irish grad realizes what improvements he needs.
“Consistency with the jump shot, that’s what I’ve been working on in the off-season a lot, haven’t gotten a whole lot of shots today, but really just playing my game and getting stringer and getting faster is something I’ve got to work on.”
With the draft lottery set for Tuesday, the Pacers will know if their long shot of getting a top five pick will happen. They’ll draft no worse than 14th.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Wednesday, officials unveiled a list of celebrities taking part in this year’s 500 Festival Parade.
The 1955 Crispus Attucks Basketball team, including its captain Oscar Robertson, will serve as the Grand Marshals of this year’s event, which takes place on Saturday, May 23 at noon in downtown Indianapolis.
Recording artists, Nico & Vinz will headline the Parade’s opening entertainment, performing their song, “Am I Wrong.”
Nastia Liukin, Paul George, Frank Vogel, Dwayne Allen, Gary Brackett, Pat McAfee, and Straight No Chaser are other celebrities and VIP’s scheduled to participate in this year’s event.
Click here for more information about the IPL 500 Festival Parade.
The offseason is full of question marks for the Pacers. One of those includes whether or not David West will be back. He has a player option this next season, which would pay him $12 million next year.
During Pacers president Larry Bird and Pacers head coach Frank Vogel’s season-end availability, both anticipated West would return. However, it may be in a diminished role. The 34-year-old power forward would likely stay a starter, but would see fewer minutes.
The 2014-2015 season was a tough one for West, who missed the first 15 games due to injury.
“We have to see how David looks next year,” said Vogel. “David got off to a bad start this year when he had to miss the first six weeks of the season with an injury. He and I talked about it yesterday; it’s just very difficult to ultimately get into a rhythm at any point in the season, when you start without a training camp or miss a huge chunk of the season.”
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – The Indiana Pacers might be getting a new look next season.
Two days after being eliminated from the playoff race, president of basketball operations Larry Bird told reporters he wants the Pacers to follow the NBA’s new trend by playing faster and smaller.
It would be a dramatic style change for a team that built its reputation around old-school basketball. But after an injury-plagued season left Indiana out of the playoffs for the first time in five years, Bird is trying to come up with a blueprint that will put Indiana back in the title conversation.
“What we’d like to do is score more points and to do that, you’ve got to run, you’ve got to play a little smaller,” Bird said, emphasizing the need to do it in a controlled fashion. “I would like to see Paul (George) play some four (power forward), like to play smaller, get up and down the court a little faster. So there’s a lot of work to do this summer, and obviously, it depends on the talent you have.”
The Pacers have seen how well it works.
Miami used that philosophy to beat them in the 2013 and 2014 Eastern Conference finals, Atlanta pushed them to the brink in the first round of last year’s playoffs, and they’ve noticed how teams such as Golden State, San Antonio and Boston have succeeded with it.
Indiana may finally have enough pieces in place to make it work, too.
After George missed 76 games with a broken right leg, George Hill and C.J. Miles emerged as the team’s most consistent scorers. Hill finished with a team best 16.5 points per game, while the 6-foot-6 Miles scored 13.5 points and was the Pacers’ top 3-point threat.
Backup point guard Rodney Stuckey was Indiana’s No. 3 scorer at 12.6 points and can now become a free agent, though Bird and coach Frank Vogel both said they’re hopeful Stuckey will be back.
George also is expected to be much closer to his All-Star form next fall despite sustaining a strained left calf in the season finale. Vogel said an MRI showed nothing more than a strain.
Chris Copeland will be a restricted free agent and having a lottery pick in June’s draft gives the Pacers a chance to choose a player who can help immediately or use the pick as trade bait to get another veteran.
“I’m excited about it,” Vogel said. “Look, we’ve been in the bottom third (of the league) offensively for a couple years now. Our style of play is based on how our roster is set up and playing to our personnel’s strengths, but I really think using Paul at the four spot, some, could A) make us faster and B) give us better spacing to be a better offensive unit.”
That does not mean Indiana’s big men are out of jobs.
If David West returns, the 34-year-old power forward will probably remain the starter though he’s likely to play fewer minutes. West has a player option for $12.6 million, and Bird believes he will be back.
Center Roy Hibbert faces a more uncertain future.
The two-time All-Star is coming off a season in which he averaged 10.1 points and 1.6 blocks, the lowest totals since his rookie season, and he has a $15.5 million player option. The fan base has soured on Hibbert over the past two seasons, and even Bird wasn’t impressed with what he saw from the 7-foot-2, 290-pound rim protector this season.
“I didn’t think he played that well, to be honest,” Bird said. “He always played hard, he’s very durable, but I didn’t think he had a great year.”
And while Bird would like to keep most of the Pacers’ roster intact, he knows Indiana’s best shot to win a title is to make some in-house changes.
“It’s a pretty simple game. If you move the basketball to the open player and you cut, you’ll get open shots every time down the court and we don’t do that,” Bird said. “We don’t set our guys up to receive the passes on the wings the way we should. We don’t set good, hard picks. We slip every pick. We don’t set picks. So we’ve got to get back to just basic basketball and doing the things that’s necessary to score points.”
Notes: Vogel said the Pacers would not sacrifice defense for points and that he expected all three of his assistant coaches to be back next season. … Vogel did not have an update on Copeland’s condition. The veteran forward returned to Indianapolis less than a week after having surgery for stab wounds to his left elbow and abdomen. … Bird said he was leaning against re-signing C.J. Watson because of his inability to stay healthy.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH/AP) – Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird and head coach Frank Vogel spoke with the media Friday morning about the team’s 2014-2015 season and what the future holds for the Blue and Gold.
The Pacers’ season came to an end this week following a 95-83 loss against the Memphis Grizzlies.
“It’s disappointing not making it to the playoffs first and foremost,” Vogel said following the team’s loss Wednesday night. “But I am proud of this group’s resiliency and their ability to overcome a ton of adversity dating all the way to the summer.”
When asked Friday about Pacer David West, and what his upcoming plans are, Bird revealed few details, but eluded to the player’s return.
“I have no clue,” he said. “David was talking about next year, so I’m sure he’s going to come back.” Vogel later added, “My gut is telling me that he will opt in.”
Bird also touched on his hopes for the 2015 NBA Draft.
“We need a little bit of everything,” he said. “I think I’ll probably take the best player available.”
Head coach Frank Vogel spoke of other members of the team, including Roy Hibbert, and his role in the upcoming season.
“There’s a possibility Roy’s role will be diminished if we’re trying to play faster and trying to play smaller,” Vogel said.
The coach also answered the question on everyone’s minds about next year for Paul George, who was absent much of the 2014-2015 season after suffering a serious leg injury in August.
“I have the ultimate confidence that he’s going to work his tail off this summer and come back better than ever,” Vogel said of George.
George was back on the court practicing with the team earlier this spring, and said he “saw the old PG coming back.”
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) – The Memphis Grizzlies are headed into the postseason with home-court advantage. The Indiana Pacers are simply heading home.
Marc Gasol had 33 points and 13 rebounds, and the Grizzlies defeated the Pacers 95-83 on Wednesday night, ending Indiana’s hopes for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot.
Meanwhile, Memphis earned the fifth seed in the West and subsequently home-court advantage with a better record over the fourth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, winners of the Northwest Division.
“I got in a rhythm,” said Gasol, who had 19 points in the first half. “That was good. My teammates kept finding me, and I was open. And I made shots. At the end of the day, we won the game on the (defensive end).”
Zach Randolph finished with 18 points for the Grizzlies, while Jeff Green scored 14 as Memphis snapped a two-game losing streak.
C.J. Miles led the Pacers with 26 points, while George Hill added 20, but Indiana was edged out by the Brooklyn Nets for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Rodney Stuckey scored 11 points, but was 3 of 13 from the field.
The Pacers seemed to slow in the second half, possibly due to fatigue from a double-overtime 99-95 win Tuesday over the Washington Wizards.
“You can say it was (fatigue),” Hill said, “but everyone knew we didn’t have time for that. We were trying to make the playoffs and every possession mattered. I think we fought as hard as we could, and we just couldn’t get the job done.”
Indiana had won six straight to put itself in position to sneak into the final spot, but with the winning streak snapped, it was the end of the Pacers run.
“It’s disappointing not making it to the playoffs first and foremost,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “But I am proud of this group’s resiliency and their ability to overcome a ton of adversity dating all the way to the summer.
“We gave ourselves a chance to get in, but I certainly am very disappointed.”
After Brooklyn won at Orlando earlier Wednesday, the Pacers’ fate was set on the outcome of their game against the Grizzlies. About that time, Memphis was putting together a second-quarter run that included 14 straight points to build a 54-41 halftime lead.
Memphis held the Pacers to 7-of-21 shooting in the second and outscored Indiana 32-17 in the frame. Memphis had half of its 10 steals in the game during the second quarter.
Gasol, who was questionable after turning his ankle over the weekend against the Clippers, controlled inside and converted mid-range jumpers.
Memphis maintained a comfortable lead through the rest of the game, Indiana getting no closer than seven points in the fourth.
“This was a must-win and we came up short,” Pacers forward Paul George said. “Kind of the epitome of this whole season.”
For the Grizzlies, who struggled at times after the All-Star break, the win provides a tad of momentum entering the postseason.
“It’s a new season,” Randolph said. “We will focus on what we have got to focus on.”
Pacers: Indiana wore its throwback jerseys. The Pacers had won all seven previous games wearing them this season. … The Pacers had gone to the playoffs four straight years before Wednesday night’s elimination.
Grizzlies: Memphis played its fourth straight game without starting point guard Mike Conley, who had a sprained right foot. Guard Tony Allen missed his ninth straight game with a left hamstring strain. … Memphis will enter the playoffs for the fifth straight season. … It was Gasol’s fifth game of at least 30 points this season. . Memphis has won its last four regular-season finales, all at home.
SCARE, BUT NOT SERIOUS
George left in the fourth quarter with a sore left calf, not the right leg he injured leading to him missing most of the season. Vogel and the Pacers emphasized it was not the right leg.
“Nothing serious,” Vogel said. “He got kicked pretty strongly in his calf and it caused a calf strain.”
Pacers: Season over.
Grizzlies: Host Portland on Sunday in opening round of Western Conference playoffs.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. (AP) – Rodney Stuckey scored 24 points, including three straight jumpers down the stretch, and the Indiana Pacers kept up their playoff push with a 107-103 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Friday night.
Indiana (36-43) has won four in a row and is one game behind Brooklyn and Boston for the last two Eastern Conference playoff spots. All three teams won on Friday.
C.J. Miles also scored 24 points for the Pacers, and Roy Hibbert had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Reggie Jackson led Detroit with 21 points. Greg Monroe had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Andre Drummond finished with 11 points, 15 boards and three blocked shots.
The game was tied at 79 after three quarters, and even with the Pistons eliminated from postseason contention, they beat the Pacers to several loose balls early in the fourth, forcing Frank Vogel to call for a timeout.
Detroit continued to outhustle Indiana, but Anthony Tolliver missed a 3-pointer that would have made it an eight-point game with six minutes left.
Miles hit a pair of 3s to get Indiana back into the game, and Luis Scola tied it at 93 with 4:11 to play. Jackson and Monroe quickly picked up their fifth foul.
The Pacers were so eager to put Drummond – the worst free-throw shooter in NBA history – on the line that they started intentionally fouling him with 3:50 to play, even though the Pistons weren’t in the penalty.
Two fouls later, Drummond missed two free throws, and Stuckey hit three straight shots to put Indiana up 101-96 with 1:55 left. Tolliver answered with a 3, but Jackson fouled out seconds later.
The first half turned into a scoring duel between Detroit’s current point guard and a former holder of the job. Jackson had 15 points to Stuckey’s 12, but Stuckey got more help, and a late Paul George 3-pointer gave the Pacers a 51-47 lead at the half.
Indiana threatened to pull away early in the third, going up by seven early in the period, but the Pistons rallied after a timeout, scoring the next eight points.
George hit another 3-pointer in the last minute, and Ian Mahinmi’s tip-in at the buzzer made it 79-79 going into the fourth.
Pacers: Chris Copeland was inactive for the second straight game after being stabbed in New York early Wednesday. … The Pacers, who lead in the NBA in bench scoring, got 48 points from their reserves on Friday, led by Stuckey.
Pistons: Jackson had to change jerseys late in the third quarter after getting blood on his original shirt. … The Pistons missed six of their first eight free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter, with only two coming from Drummond. Jackson and Caldwell-Pope each went 1 for 3.
Pacers: Host the Thunder on Sunday.
Pistons: Host the Hornets on Sunday in their final home game of the season.