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Indiana Pacers React To Loss Of Danny Granger
Posted By Bill Ingram On March 28, 2013 @ 9:12 pm In NBA | No Comments
Thursday night’s game against the Dallas Mavericks was already slated to be a big one for the Indiana Pacers. With the Mavericks pushing hard for a playoff berth, the Pacers were going to have their hands full in their race to secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
They were supposed to get a big boost with early reports saying Danny Granger would be returning to the lineup after missing all but five games with a knee injury, but then the team announced Granger would have surgery and miss the rest of the season.
“More important than anything, we’re disappointed for Danny,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. “He’s worked extremely hard to get back, to recover from this injury and be a factor for our team and be a contributor. We’re very disappointed about him, but we have a great deal of belief in Orlando Johnson, Gerald Green and Sam Young. They’re all going to have to pick up the slack with our depth at the wing position. We have the second-best record in the East right now without having Danny all year, so we think we’re still getting better and we’re going to have to move forward.”
“It’s tough to hear, especially when we know how Danny’s been battling it all year long and trying to get back healthy and back to 100 percent,” Pacers forward Paul George told HOOPSWORLD. “It’s tough. We all know where he’s at mentally as far as wanting to play. You definitely want to play. For us to be doing so well and having the year that we’re having, of course you want to be part of that. Of course you want to be a part of that and be on the court. Not that he’s not a part of it now, but there’s really so much that Danny brings that we really could have used come playoff time.”
“It’s a loss for us, you know, any time you learn that a guy like that is not going to be in the lineup for the rest of the year, but we’ve been dealing with him being out all year,” David West told HOOPSWORLD. “Guys have had some great resolve in terms of just stepping up and that’s got us in a good position. Now that we know he’s not going to be around, that question about whether he is going to be back or not is out of our minds and we can just go ahead with the guys we have.”
“It really is tough,” Pacers general manager Kevin Pritchard echoed. “He’s such a good guy and he’s meant so much to our team for the last couple of years. He’s seen us build into a solid ball club and I know it was very tough for him. This is an opportunity for guys to step up, as you know. Guys have to step up. They feel good about themselves, they’ve had a heck of a year already, and we know there is a silver lining and that is that guys like Lance [Stephenson], Gerald [Green] have a chance to blossom.”
The Pacers have been working Granger back slowly, hoping to have him at fill speed before the playoffs, but ongoing soreness in the knee caused some concern in the final hours before his supposed return.
“We’ve been resting him because he had a flare-up last time,” Vogel explained. “So we rested him with the intent that we were going to work him back up to his his condition and strengthen his knee so that we could get him back around this time right here, but he’s still experiencing the soreness, so he met with the doctors and made the decision that it was time to have surgery.”
There is a risk, of course, that this kind of news could knock the wind out of the Pacers, who were expecting a significant lift from Granger, but Vogel doesn’t anticipate that being an issue.
“I don’t think so,” Vogel said. “We’ve had the mindset that we’re going to be without him all year and when he comes back it would be just a bonus, so I don’t think there will any risk of a drop-off.”
The fact that the Pacers have had so much success without Granger – currently sitting at 45-27 on the season and in a dead heat with the New York Knicks in the race for the East’s second seed – makes Vogel believe the team has what it will take to continue winning without their team captain.
“Succeeding in this league is about confidence,” Vogel explained. “It’s not like we just lost Danny and we have to establish a belief in ourselves. We have a great deal of belief in ourselves and who we’ve become this year without Danny. Obviously, it would have helped to bring him back, but we have a great deal of confidence.”
As tough as the news about Granger is, the Pacers organization believes the right decision has been made, both for Danny and for the team.
“We had a good meeting and he’s at peace with the decision,” Vogel said. “He knows it’s the best decision. He’s disappointed, but you have to make the best decision and we all feel like he did.”
First and foremost, the Pacers will continue to lean heavily on George to fill the role vacated by Granger, and so far this season that has been a winning proposition. George is having a career-year and shows no signs of slowing down. If Indiana is only going as far as George can take them, that might be very far indeed.
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