Pacers' laboratory produces good chemistry
It was about a year ago that F Danny Granger and F Dahntay Jones had some heated words with G Lance Stephenson inside the locker room in Houston.
That was the lowest the Pacers' chemistry had been in several years.
How things have changed in the past 13 months for Indiana.
The Pacers now have their tightest group of players in more than five years. It's showing in the standings, too, as the Pacers are 13 games over .500 and have a game lead over Atlanta for the third seed in the Eastern Conference races.
"When you don't have to think about it much, you know you have great chemistry, and that's been the case this year," coach Frank Vogel said. "I think we've got better chemistry now than we've had since I've been here the last five years. All families are imperfect on some level, but it's been such a minimal."
The players have one objective: winning. That's why they've avoided any drama over playing time or cliques inside the locker room. The Pacers -- playing a strike-shorten season -- are on pace to have their best record since the 2005-06 season.
"Over the last three seasons that I've been here, the chemistry has gotten progressively better each year," G A.J. Price said. "This year we've got a group of guys who are fighting for the same common goal, which is to only win games, and it's collectively bringing us together."
The Pacers used a different starting lineup for just the third time this season when G Darren Collison missed the game with a sore groin muscle. G George Hill started in Collison's place. F Danny Granger (two games) is the only starter to miss a game this season.
The victory helped the Pacers increase their lead over Atlanta for the third seed to a game. The Pacers have to avoid tying the Hawks because Atlanta has the tiebreaker since it went 2-1 against Indiana this season.
"You have to stay ready. It's our job to step in and make it seem like nothing happened." G George Hill on his first start of the season