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Back Home, Pacers Fighting Jet Lag

by Scott Agness | @ScottAgness

October 15, 2013

The Pacers will be battling more than their three opponents this week. Back home again in Indianapolis for less than 48 hours after a week-long trip to Asia for the NBA’s Global Games, players have struggled getting to sleep and admitted to feeling out of sorts Tuesday afternoon following their first practice since returning late Sunday.

“Not really sure what day it is or what time it is. I feel like I’m kinda in the twilight zone. You ever been there?” Pacers coach Frank Vogel joked. “No, we’re getting readjusted. Had a good day trying to stay awake yesterday, got a little sleep yesterday but still getting readjusted for sure.

“I thought we were pretty sharp [at practice Tuesday] considering the day after coming back from Asia. You don’t really know what to expect. Guys were energetic and pretty focused.”

Vogel, however, was more subtle than others. Jet lag, as defined by MayoClinic.com, is “caused when your body's internal clock or circadian rhythms, which tell your body when to stay awake and when to sleep in the old time zone, are out of sync with cues from the new time zone, such as light exposure and dining times.” The travel time was approximately 18 hours each way.

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“It’s not good,” said Danny Granger, who was part of the team’s trip in 2009 to China along with Roy Hibbert. “That is the hardest part right now. Half of us still sleeping, half of us feel real lethargic. It’s [a] 12-hour difference.”

Two Pacers point guards, C.J. Watson and Donald Sloan, wrote about their frustrations on Twitter early Tuesday.

The starting point guard, George Hill, found himself staring at his television in the middle of the night and he even made a purchase while tuned to HDNet.

“My nights were terrible,” Hill explained. “I went to sleep at 5 [a.m.] the first night and 4 last night. I was just up watching infomercials and buying Ninja Blenders and stuff. I actually bought one the other night. The infomercial sold me that good. I got up and got my computer and bought one. … On TV it looked so great. When it comes in the mail, hopefully it’s great.”

Donald Sloan, who played in Manila for about a month in 2011 and has traveled often with his former teams, says he expects to feel the effects for a week.

“Honestly man, every time I went anywhere, it took like a week,” he said.

So what can be done to combat jet lag?

Granger: “Our doctors have us on Ambien to help us sleep. They got us taking some other supplements. Frank is doing a good job of not taxing us too much when we are already tired from the trip. Our cycles really have to come around.”

Added Hill: “Who knows. It took us almost five days when we were over there so hopefully it doesn’t take us five days when we get back. Trying to go get some medicine to knock me out or something to just get some good sleep. It should be fine. Once I get to sleep early one day, I think your body will get used to it.”

Because returning to their normal sleep patterns could take a week or longer, Vogel isn’t making excuses for upcoming games but he is encouraging more rest than usual.

“We’re just trying to put it out of our minds, make sure we are cognizant of taking care of our sleep and our rest, and I’m doing that with our team to make sure we are making the right decisions with our bodies,” he said.

Pacers star Paul George is feeling worse than most of the team. He’s home with bronchitis and a 104-degree temperature, according to Vogel. He’ll likely miss Wednesday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and Vogel has already planned to sit Hibbert, who was held out of practice Tuesday.

“We’re going to take this period to give him some rest before we get into the grind,” Vogel said of Hibbert.

Hibbert won’t practice on Thursday, either, and they’ll decide later this week, before a pair of games over the weekend, when he’ll return.

Highlights of the Trip

The Pacers were one of eight teams to participate in the NBA Global Games during the preseason. Back in 2009, the Pacers played the Denver Nuggets in Taipei, Taiwan in what was the first-ever NBA game there. Their meeting against the Rockets last Sunday was the second.

“With the success we’ve had in the last two years, we’re more globally known and it showed in Taipei,” Granger said. “We had fans at the airport in three in the morning, we needed security outside of the hotel at all times. We tried to go shopping and we had to go with a team of armed people just to take us shopping. They definitely took notice.

“Fans were everywhere at all times wearing our jerseys. When we started coming back, they were chanting ‘Pacers!’ in the stands, I thought we were in Bankers Life.”

On the television broadcasts of the sold-out games, hundreds of fans wearing Pacers gear were shown. And instead of Reggie Miller jerseys of old, there were Paul George, Danny Granger and even David West jerseys – demonstrating a new era for the franchise.

Though he didn’t purchase anything, Sloan most enjoyed visiting the popular Mall of Asia with everyone and helping out at a NBA Cares event. He noted that a couple guys left the mall with Rolex watches. Jerry Harkness

When pressed for his favorite memory, George Hill paused to think, and then had a big grin as he answered.

“The highlight of my trip was a girl with the Special Olympics, little girl named Sabrina,” Hill said. “She had two pigtails and some pink glasses. [She] was the highlight of my trip. She was so fun and energetic it caught me by surprise.”

Hill then saw her at Taipei Arena on game day and tried to get her to the bench. However, security wouldn’t let her.

After showering and changing following Sunday’s game, Hill, who suffered a mild left ankle sprain, made the extra effort to walk back where fans were to sign autographs.

“That was probably their one shining moment that they’d get to be that close to us,” he said. “Just tried to show them that we’re no different, thanks for all their support and we respect what they do for us.”

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