Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog: Hill's injury means opportunity for Stephenson, Price

Hill's injury means opportunity for Stephenson, Price

Feb. 1, 2012 - We won't know for a day or so how long George Hill will be out with the chip fracture in his left ankle. "Indefinitely," the original prognosis, can mean anything from a couple of games to a couple of months.

In the meantime, Hill's injury is a big hit for a bench that has been inconsistent of late, though it offers increased opportunity for Lance Stephenson and A.J. Price.

"I felt a sharp pain but I thought it was just because of the way I landed on his foot and turned it over," said Hill, who sustained the injury when he landed on Johan Petro's foot. "You always hope for the best. Today I just got bad news instead of good news.

"I was starting to feel a little rhythm, getting used to the system more and comfortable playing in the system but better now when later in the season when we start to get to the playoffs. I'll just try to do everything I can, listen to the trainers and get back as soon as possible."

Hill not only is the team's leading scorer off the bench (9.3), he's the top backup at both guard spots. Stephenson has been playing a handful of minutes, usually in the first half. Price has the most experience at point guard, averaging 6.5 points and 2.2 assists last season, but has played sparingly this year.

"We have a very good bench," Coach Frank Vogel said. "Our depth has been a strength of ours all along. We've got a guy who played big minutes for us and was a key to our identity last year in A.J. Price that hasn't played much this year. He will play some, Lance will play some. George Hill is a major contributor and he will be missed but I believe in the guys that will fill in for him."

Stephenson played 12-plus minutes Tuesday in the 106-99 victory over the Nets. He had a season-high five assists, including the spectacular lead pass that Paul George caught in mid-flight and dunked. But he also threw the ball out of bounds in the fourth quarter when he attempted to pass to Danny Granger, who was neither expecting nor looking for the pass.

"The more time I play I feel like the more comfortable I get out there with the other guys," Stephenson said. "I try to create and dish and it's working for me. It's an opportunity to show I can be one of the helpers on the team. I'll try my best and keep playing hard."

Hill has been a durable player in his career, missing a total of 15 games in three seasons. With the schedule turning back in favor of the Pacers, eight of 12 at home after they complete the current two-game road trip and the All-Star break looming from Feb. 23-27, it's possible the blow of losing Hill can be somewhat dampened.

"He's a big part of our bench," Roy Hibbert said. "He could start for us at any point in time. We've just got to hold it down till he gets back and when he's good to go, we'll get him back out there."

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