Agness' 2012 Early Season Notebook

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by Scott Agness

November 12, 2012

George Alters Pregame Routine

Paul George had been frustrated with his play six games in, so he did something about it Saturday night prior to playing Washington. That night, he led the team in scoring for the first time this season with 20 points, and he's on pace for his best rebounding numbers of his career, currently at 8.4 per contest.

"I prepared a little differently," the third-year wing said. "And it worked. I came in here a little earlier, got a lift in, got a lot of shots up, and I sat down with the coaches and kind of talked a little bit."

In his discussion with assistant coach Jim Boylen, George took the constructive-criticism to heart. He recognized changes needed to made for himself and the betterment of the team.

"He was just telling me I could be a lot more efficient when I'm out there. That was something I really thought about. I wasn't shooting the ball well and defensively, I wasn't getting it in how I was last year."

Chemistry: A Work in Progress

Much of the Pacers struggles thus far can be attributed to the absence of Danny Granger. Yes, Granger is instrumental to the team's play on the court, but also without him, lineups have left much to be desired and the chemistry still isn't there.

The second unit, which has been shuffled quite a bit in nearly every game, still hasn't produced as the team hoped so more changes were made. Against Washington on Saturday, the coaches decided to keep a starter or two on the floor at all times and it seemed to work. For now, they'll continue to fine-tune the lineups, find what works and hope the chemistry follows.

"It's a little difficult," George said of all the combinations. "Just trying to get adjusted with my teammates and trying to find what lineup and whose where. It's still early, that's the best way we can look at it. It's still early in the year and once we start clicking, the way that we gel so well and the way that we enjoy playing with one another, once we do get it done, it'll be fun basketball."

"We're professionals, so we've got to be able to adjust and learn on the fly," David West added.

Stephenson's Play Taking Off

Lance Stephenson has taken his game to a new level this season. Over the summer, he stayed in Indy most of the time and dropped by the Fieldhouse almost every day to get work in. He's becoming more well-rounded, and playing with a new enthusiasm—especially on defense.

Coach Vogel started Gerald Green in Granger's position for the first three games, and then tried Sam Young at that spot for the next three. He wasn't satisfied how things were going with the newcomers and he recognized the way Stephenson was playing.

Against Washington, Stephenson started his first meaningful game and produced well at shooting guard. He opened the game with a three-pointer and finished with 12 points and four rebounds. Through seven games, he's averaging career-bests 8.6 points, three rebounds and two assists per game.

"When he's on the court, the energy of everybody else out there picks up," Vogel said following Saturday's win. "He's an under-your-skin guy. Statistically, he's been our best wing option with Danny out."

His teammates have taken notice as well, including Paul George. "He's been playing good all season long. I'm happy that he got the start, happy that he's starting. Lot of time that he has spent here in the summer working on his game."

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