By Conrad Brunner FOXSportsIndiana.com November 22, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS–Looking strictly at the numbers, it’s easy to miss the point.
In the last seven games, Josh McRoberts has just eight baskets, has shot .388 overall and missed all five of his 3-point attempts.
Considering the guy he’s replacing at power forward routinely would get eight hoops in one game and was one of the deadliest long-range shooters among NBA big men, you could see where McRoberts might struggle in comparison.
But no one is asking McRoberts to be Troy Murphy. The Pacers just want McRoberts to be, well, McRoberts. And that’s been pretty good so far.
“I think he’s doing some good things,” said Coach Jim O’Brien. “These guys (power forwards) have to play with a ferocity every minute of every game, whoever’s at that spot. When they do that they’ll be at their best. When they stop doing that, then they’re not the players they can be.”
McRoberts started relatively quickly, averaging 9.5 points and shooting .586 from the field in the first four games. But his scoring opportunities have dwindled since then. He’s still an effective rebounder (6.6 per game in an average of 23 minutes) and defender. In fact, the Pacers have showed signs of becoming a much better rebounding team in Murphy’s absence.
“Obviously, we’re not running plays for me and that’s not a bad thing,” said McRoberts. “I understand I’m our fifth option. Some games I’m going to get 10-12 shots, some games I’m going to get two shots or no shots. It’s kind of how the game goes. I try to be as productive as I can.
“I don’t think we really need me to score. If I can get Danny (Granger) open for three or four more shots on screens or get Mike (Dunleavy) a handoff, that’s fine with me. I think the team, the coaching staff, the people that understand basketball understand my value and it’s not always going to be scoring 15 or 20 points in a game.”
Perhaps his biggest challenges have been building the endurance necessary to play starter’s minutes and managing his energy to be productive throughout. In his first three NBA seasons, McRoberts averaged 10 minutes in 83 appearances, so it was no problem to play with reckless abandon in relatively short stints.
“I think I’ll get better at it as it goes along but I think I’m handling it pretty well,” he said. “My conditioning is good. I’m always in good shape. It is different though. I pretty much had it figured out the last couple of years: Murph’s going to start and I’m going to go in at this timeout for three minutes, so I’ve got to go really hard for three minutes.
“You don’t want to pace yourself but you do want to manage your energy. I think I’ve done alright and I’ll continue to get better.”
NOTES: The Pacers expect to get starting point guard Darren Collison back for tonight’s game in Miami. T.J. Ford started the previous three games while Collison was out with a sprained left ankle. � Ford averaged 9.0 points and 5.0 assists, shooting .343 from the field as the fill-in starter. � The Pacers lost their two games in Miami last season by a total of 64 points. They’ve dropped four in a row overall to the Heat. � In the last two losses, Roy Hibbert has totaled 31 points in the first half but just six in the second. � Indiana is 3-1 when scoring at least 100 points and 4-0 when gathering at least 21 assists.