IC Cold Links: A.J. Price Works His Way Back Into Playing Rotation

Feb. 28, 2012; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard A.J. Price (12) brings the ball up the court against the Golden State Warriors at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Indiana defeated Golden State 102-78. Mandatory credit: Michael Hickey-US PRESSWIRE

The Indiana Pacers came out on point after the All-Star break to put up a precision W over Golden State on Tuesday night.

The starting unit flat out took it to the Warriors at both ends of the floor. Their defense gets credit for sparking the lopsided win and creating transition scoring opportunities, but they also converted most of those chances while performing pretty well at the offensive end. Of course that meant they were sharing the ball which is evident in the 18 assists the starters dished out on their 27 field goals.

The big news of the night came from the second unit, with Frank Vogel declaring before the game that A.J. Price would move ahead of Lance Stephenson in the playing rotation as the backup point guard. In what is becoming an annual ritual, Price has earned his minutes after sitting much of the first half of the season and then taking advantage of the opportunity to play due to an injury.

As he has in the past two seasons, Price found his rhythm with the consistent minutes and will likely finish out the season in this backup role barring a further tightening of the rotation. George Hill has been first off the bench at shooting guard and there may be games where G3, Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster are as deep as Vogel goes, but the Pacers generally rely on their depth to wear down other teams, so I expect Price to get plenty of burn even in the playoffs.

The situation for price this season may have been different than the past, as well with the Pacers wanting to give Stephenson a chance to play some consistent minutes as opposed to preferring Stephenson over Price. Stephenson has improved as the season has progressed and certainly shown promise, but Price is far more reliable at this point so with the starters playing at a high level, there's no need for a high risk/high reward player off the bench. One thing is for sure, you have to credit Price for always staying ready to jump at the chance to play when the opportunity arises.

Check out the links after the jump.

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