by Scott Agness – Follow Scott
The Pacers got off to a troubling start Wednesday as they ushered in a new season. In the first 10 minutes, they turned the ball over eight times and fell behind by double digits.
Then, checking in for the first time after seven seasons in Detroit was No. 2, Rodney Stuckey. The veteran keyed the Pacers’ 12-0 run to close the opening frame and move in front, 26-24.
“I’m just trying to get everyone settled down, get everyone in their positions, and just run the plays,” Stuckey said afterwards. “I felt like when I got in the game, we kind of did that, got the lead back and from there, we play all right basketball.”
There were nerves on the Pacers’ side from the tip. Roy Hibbert was the lone starter back and available for the Game No. 1. Paul George, George Hill, and David West were out with injuries. Lance Stephenson, of course, moved on to Charlotte in July.
Playing against a questionable roster consciously constructed by Philadelphia, the Pacers relaxed, hit shots, and outscored the 76ers by 15 points in the second half on way to an opening-night victory, 103-91 was the final.
“Overall, it was just a great team win,” said fifth-year head coach Frank Vogel. “Everybody contributed. It wasn’t perfect. It’s not going to perfect when you have this situation that we have but you just do whatever it takes to win.
“I think it’s important for our guys to feel what it’s like to win when you have the … unique injury situation we have. It’s going to be a work-in-progress, but we’ve got to win games no matter who’s out on the court.”
Stuckey is one of the four new guys added to the roster, and he shined brightest. Going into the game, there were concerns that like the team’s leaders, he wouldn’t be out there because of an injury (sprained right foot). After sitting out for 10 days, he resumed practicing on Monday and played a limited role on Wednesday.