A.J. Price is making some noise.
The No. 52 pick from this summer's draft is letting his teammates and coaches know that he's ready for more playing time and a bigger role at the point guard position. He's also letting opposing players and writers know that he's not playing in Europe this year.
After Price's exhilarating performance in Saturday's loss to the Thunder where he single-handily kept the Pacers in the game during the final stanza, one Thunder beat writer noted "Confession: I didn't know A.J. Price was in the NBA. If there is anyone in the league who was like me, I guarantee they know who he is now."
Price played the entire fourth quarter on Saturday, scoring 19 of his 23 points in the final period while bringing the Pacers within one point of the lead, until Kevin Durant showed Danny Granger what a franchise-player is supposed to do and destroyed the blue and gold down the stretch. While the Pacers suffered another loss, Price showed he's a player worth investing in. Price said after the game, "I haven't really felt like (a rookie) pretty much since training camp. I've kept the mentality that I'm here for a reason. I just need to go out there and play my game, the same I've played my whole life."
Teammate, and starting point guard, Earl Watson added: "The thing about A.J. is that he constantly works on his game. When you have young guys like that doing it the right way, you have no choice but to cheer for them. You want them to succeed. I see him with the ability to keep on improving."
Price's performance should guarantee some more playing time, especially as T.J. Ford has been moved to the inactive list. And while Price plays like a first-rounder, the Pacers' true No. 1 draft choice from this summer continues to sit away from the team. As I've begun wondering if Tyler Hansbrough isn't just buried with Jeff Foster's corpse under the White River Canal, we finally received an update from coach Jim O'Brien about Hansbrough's ear infection. According to Mike Wells, Hansbrough went through an intensive pre-game workout Saturday that left the rookie too dizzy to play.
Here's O'Brien's take on the matter: "He took himself out because he feels dizzy. It could last 3-6 weeks. What we try to do is we try to work him out hard before the game and see how he responds to moving around. He is just dizzy."
Just dizzy. Fantastic. And on that note, let's move on to the links after the jump.
- AP Story
- Box Score/NBA.com Recap
- Photo Gallery
- Oklahoma City Thunder Recap
- Mike Wells and the Indianapolis Star use a recap to focus on the emergence of A.J. Price, Danny Granger and his bombardment of missed 3-pointers, and Kevin Durant dominating the way a superstar dominates in Saturday's game.
- In his notebook story, Wells writes about Earl Watson's return against his former team (where he claims to hold no hard feelings against the Thunder).
- Somebody e-mail Jim O'Brien the web address to Mike Wells' blog. As Mike continually states, it'd be nice if the Pacers kept doing what usually makes them successful -- feeding Roy Hibbert down low and letting the big man be the catalyst for the inside-outside game and their perimeter offense. Instead, the Pacers continue to fall back into the 3-ball mentality that continues to sink them in each game.
- Always Miller Time recaps Saturday's loss, while Eight Points, Nine Seconds previewed the matchup.
NewsOK writer Darnell Mayberry posts a really good blog post that recaps the game. It also included this quote from O'Brien about Granger: "I think he feels like he's playing in the first week of training camp. I don't think he's even close to being ready." Not encouraging.
- Here's the Thunder perspective from NewsOK.
- ESPN lists the top six contracts from the past decade. Clocking in at #2: our good friend, Jermaine O'Neal. Just think, if JO paid the Pacers just under 10 percent of the money the franchise paid him, then the team could pay its little Conseco "Reggie Miller" Fieldhouse operating costs and keep the team firmly planted in the middle of Indiana for at least another season. I'm sure Jermaine's check is in the mail.
- Sports Illustrated checks in with NBA Player's Union leader Billy Hunter on his pessimistic view of a lockout in 2011.