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Dunleavy's Injury Creates Opportunity for Rush

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

February 23, 2011

An injury cost Brandon Rush his spot in the rotation.

An injury has brought him back.

With Mike Dunleavy out indefinitely with a broken left thumb, Rush returns from limbo to the lineup.

"He fell out (of the rotation) pretty much just because he got hurt," said Coach Frank Vogel before the Pacers faced Detroit Wednesday in Conseco Fieldhouse. "Typically, that doesn't happen in sports but the other guys stepped up so much that it happened. He'll be back in the starting lineup tonight and we'll keep Paul (George) with that second unit that's been so good for us and hopefully we won't skip a beat."

Rush was playing regularly until going down with a sprained ankle in late January, missing 10 straight games. In his three games since returning, he has totaled just 32 minutes and 11 points. He was the last man to play in the Pacers' 113-96 win in Washington Tuesday. Dunleavy's injury occurred in the first quarter Tuesday. He initially thought it was jammed and returned to the game, playing just under 23 minutes. But further examination revealed the break.

"It's obviously a very tough loss,"said Vogel. "He's been playing great for us, especially since the coaching change. It's just a big loss. You lose his shooting, his cerebral approach, his player leadership out there on the court and he's probably our best team defensive player.

"So it's a tough loss but I've said all along we've got great depth, in particular at the wing position. I feel like we have five wings that can flat-out play and Brandon Rush is going to get his chance to get back in the rotation."

Rush had 13 previous starts this season, averaging 14.0 points and 4.6 rebounds, shooting .444 overall and .385 from the 3-point line. He started 64 games last season when he posted career highs of 9.4 points and 4.2 rebounds while leading the Pacers in 3-point accuracy (.411).

"It's really an easy decision because Brandon Rush can play," said Vogel. "He's been a starter for us a lot of times over the last couple of years, he's a knock-down 3-point shooter, a lock-down defender. It's really going to be a good thing for Brandon."

Dunleavy had played in 54 of the Pacers’ 55 games this season, starting 44. He was averaging 11.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.8 assists per game.

With Dunleavy joining T.J. Ford and Solomon Jones on the inactive list, rookie Lance Stephenson will get a shot on the active roster, although it remains to be seen how much playing time might open up. Vogel said he would be in the third point guard, typically a little-used slot this season.