New look for Pacers goes beyond Flo-Jos
Feb. 02, 2015
The Pacers will have a different look Wednesday night, and it won’t just be the uniforms.
Three months and 50 games into the season, finally we’ll get a first look at the Pacers -- at least the team Frank Vogel thought he was going to have in the aftermath of Paul George’s injury.
With George Hill’s return to the lineup Wednesday night against Detroit, as well as the expected return of C.J. Miles to the first unit, the Pacers will be able to begin a game with their projected starters for the first time all season. To this point, Hill, Rodney Stuckey, Miles, David West and Roy Hibbert have appeared together for a total of five minutes spanning two games.
The Pacers will be debuting their Hardwood Classics retro uniforms, “Flo-Jos” designed by Florence Griffith-Joyner and worn for most of the 1990s, against the Pistons.
Hill will be appearing in his 11th game of the season, starting his fourth. He missed the first 28 games with a quadriceps injury and after returning on Dec. 23, lasted just five games before going back down with a groin issue. He missed 11 more games and returned Jan. 23 and was limited to roughly 20 minutes off the bench in the five games since as the medical staff was more cautious with his second comeback.
“He had the mindset to come in this season as a different player and he worked to do that,” said Vogel. “He had some setbacks with injuries but now that he’s out there and seeing how the group has struggled not only in his absence but changing from last year’s personnel to this year’s personnel, I think he sees an opportunity and a need to be more assertive, to be more aggressive, and to be a different player. And he’s showing that, he’s showing what he’s capable of. We’ve only scratched the surface of what we’re going to see from him the second half of the season.”
In 22.1 minutes per game, Hill has averaged a team-high 13.6 points as well as 3.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists. His impact on the team has been tangible, even in a limited role. The Pacers have gone 5-5 in the 10 games he played, averaging 99.2 points and .469 shooting; without him they’ve gone 12-27 and averaged 93.9 points and .421 shooting.
“That’s a floor general for you,” Vogel said. “He’s a multiple threat, he’s great with the ball, organizing, getting everybody involved, running the show and he’s great playing off the ball, as well. We’re lengthier defensively so we can get more stops and get out and run, as well. He impacts both ends of the court as a major part of what we’re trying to do the second half of the season.”
Time is running short for the team to reverse its fortunes. At 17-32, the Pacers are last in the Central Division and 12th in the Eastern Conference, four games behind eighth-place Charlotte (20-27) in the race for the final playoff spot. They’ve dropped eight of 10, including two of three on the current five-game homestand.
Hill is fully aware the expectations that will accompany his return to a full-time role, but cautions against assuming that, in and of itself, will make the difference.
“It’s not a one-man job,” he said. “No matter if you get Paul back or anybody back, it’s still going to take all five guys on the court. The more we can have all five guys on the same page and tied together, the better off we’ll be. It can’t just be one or two people. …
“I’ve never been a part of being at the bottom of anything, East or West, so don’t want to start doing that now, so got to figure how we can turn it around and the turnaround has to be ASAP.”