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Lineup Change Could Bring Pacers to Life

by Conrad Brunner || Caught in the Web Archive

March 10, 2011

(Photo via NBA/Getty Images)

This was inevitable, wasn't it?

I mean, how could you keep Tyler Hansbrough out of the starting lineup? The raging bull has been beating at the door for a few weeks now and even the stoutest timber can't withstand that kind of assault.

And didn't you, like me, presume that when Mike Dunleavy went down Paul George would be in the lineup then? Frank Vogel opted to go with Brandon Rush for reasons that seemed perfectly reasonable at the time, but George has been headed this way for a while.

And so the young interim coach has made the first major adjustment to his original plan, moving Rush and Josh McRoberts to the second unit to make way for Hansbrough and George.

"I talked to Josh McRoberts and Brandon Rush and it's not specifically anything they've been doing wrong," Vogel said. "They've been playing pretty good basketball. But I feel like we need a change right now and hopefully that'll give us a lift."

The first night out, a 101-75 drubbing in Minneapolis, wasn't exactly what Vogel had in mind but the lineup change could hardly be faulted.

The first unit as previously constructed simply wasn't working. In their four-game losing streak, the Pacers have been outscored 125-93 in the first quarter. The starters have been outscored 330-244 in the last five.

A bench, no matter how productive, can only be reasonably asked to do so much.

Even in defeat, Hansbrough and George offered glimpses that their energy just might be what the Pacers ordered.

Hansbrough had his fifth double-double of the season (21 points, 10 rebounds) and for much of the first half was all the Pacers had, offensively. He has averaged 21.3 points and 8.7 rebounds in the last three games and 15.8 points and 7.4 rebounds since the All-Star break. Those are starter's numbers.

George battled foul trouble and struggled to get into the offensive flow but both he and Hansbrough showed excellent activity defensively, coming up with three steals each.

It will take a minute for these two to become fully enmeshed with the other starters but ultimately this change will serve the Pacers well.