Caught in the Web Indiana Pacers blog: Hollywood goes Hoosier with McRoberts, Murphy

Hollywood goes Hoosier with McRoberts, Murphy

Jan. 21, 2012

Hollywood has gone Hoosier.

Take a look at the Lakers and you'll see it's undeniable.

Lakers Head Coach Mike Brown's career was launched as Rick Carlisle's top assistant with the Pacers from 2003-05. Assistant Coach Chuck Person was Donnie Walsh's first draft pick, the player who helped restore credibility to the franchise. The roster features Josh McRoberts, who started 51 games with his hometown team last season, and his former Pacers teammate Troy Murphy. They join another former Pacers forward, Metta World Peace.

And so there will be something of a familial air when the Pacers wrap up their three-game Western Conference road trip Sunday in L.A. (9:30 p.m., Fox Sports Indiana, WIBC 93 FM). It isn't quite a one-way street. Pacers Associate Head Coach Brian Shaw, of course, won rings as a player and assistant coach with the Lakers.

A free agent this past summer, McRoberts hoped to remain with the Pacers but the acquisition of David West doomed his chances. Not only was a starter secured but Tyler Hansbrough became the backup power forward, leaving little to no role for McRoberts. There was talk of a sign-and-trade with Memphis that revived the O.J. Mayo talk but when that fell through, McRoberts signed with the Lakers.

He quickly has made quite an impression. With Andrew Bynum suspended the first four games, McRoberts found himself in the starting lineup the first four games, producing 24 points, 25 rebounds and six blocked shots. Though he missed a handful of games with a sprained big toe, McRoberts has become a fan favorite because of his athleticism and aggressive nature.

"I like to play winning basketball," McRoberts told the L.A. Times. "I'm not a stat guy. You're not going to be blown away looking at my numbers from high school, college or NBA. I just want to win basketball games and do whatever it takes to get wins."

That approach has endeared him to Lakers fans.

L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke dubbed him "Josh McRambis" in a recent article, interviewing the former Lakers blue-collar icon about the possibility his long-awaited successor had arrived.

"I like his effort, I like how hard he plays, but boy, does he need some glasses and somebody to hem his shorts," Rambis said. "Laker fans don't know it, but McRoberts is also a pretty good shooter. Of course, the Lakers won't let him shoot either."

There is no such restraint for Murphy, one of the best-shooting power forwards in the game. Like McRoberts, he comes off the bench and plays around 20 minutes a game, bouncing back nicely from a lost season in 2010-11.

Traded to the Nets in the four-team deal that brought Darren Collison to the Pacers, Murphy was injured in the preseason and was unable to carve a niche in New Jersey. He was traded again, this time back to his original NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, but waived five days later. Murphy then signed with Boston.

Coming off back-to-back seasons in which he averaged double-doubles for the Pacers, Murphy totaled 35 appearances, averaged 3.1 points and 3.2 rebounds, and shot 5-of-33 from the 3-point line. Since signing with the Lakers, however, he has new life playing regularly for a championship contender.

The Lakers don't expect either McRoberts or Murphy to fill the void created when Sixth Man award winner Lamar Odom was dealt to Dallas. Both, however, have been productive in their own ways.

McRoberts' career took flight in Indiana. Murphy's was rejuvenated.

Surrounded by former Pacers in L.A., both feel right at home.

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