Second unit gets second chance against Bulls

Dec. 20, 2011

Given the compressed nature of the looming NBA regular-season schedule, Frank Vogel would like to employ a 10-man rotation, going two deep at each position.

Central to his ability to do that is consistent production from the second unit, a group that struggled in the Pacers' 95-86 preseason loss to the Bulls on Friday in Conseco Fieldhouse. With only one preseason game remaining, a rematch tonight in Chicago (8 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93.1 FM), there is little time to experiment with combinations and rotations, so improved execution will be the key.

"Everybody's in this situation," said Vogel. "We believe in our depth, our simple offensive approach and we think it's going to play dividends for us this year."

While all five starters scored in double figures, led by Hansbrough's 19, the bench was outscored 41-12 and the reserves combined to make just 4-of-23 (.174) from the field.

The makeup of the second unit is likely to change quite a bit before the regular season opens Dec. 26 in Conseco Fieldhouse against Detroit. {Get your tickets for Opening Night presented by Kroger}

Once West rebuilds his conditioning, he will move into the starting lineup at power forward, shifting Hansbrough to the bench. With the trade of Brandon Rush to Golden State for Louis Amundson, more minutes are available to Hill at shooting guard as well as the point. Amundson and Jeff Pendergraph will give a shot of energy, rebounding and defense to the frontcourt.

West has looked strong in practice since joining the team as a free agent last week, and he scored 13 points in a 24-minute intrasquad scrimmage during Fan Jam on Sunday at Conseco Fieldhouse. Whether West will play tonight, however, remains to be seen. His surgically repaired knee is not the issue, rather the conditioning time missed in rehab.

"We've kind of just been playing it by ear in terms of making sure my conditioning is getting better, and really having a good sense of what's going on," West said. "I don't want to be out there disrupting the flow and the way guys are working. We knew that was going to take some time in terms of guys getting used to me, me getting used to guys and the system.

"I think I'll be all right. Patience is more just making sure we're covering all our bases. I don’t want to get out there and be a deer in headlights, just be completely lost. Obviously, that would disrupt the ability of this team to play well and get better. We've been going with the flow, playing it by ear, a lot of communication going on. (Monday) was a good day. We'll see how I feel (Tuesday)."

Vogel said he has been impressed by West's strength and physical presence but that he must be patient in getting the veteran acclimated.

"He's doing great. He's finding his way," Vogel said. "He's getting more comfortable with everything every day and we're looking forward to getting him out there."

Neither Amundson, acquired Monday, nor Pendergraph (sore knee) will play tonight.

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