Rookie Tyler Hansbrough and veteran Mike Dunleavy nearly have the official green light. Right now, it's still at a cautionary yellow, but that could soon change as well.
After both were restricted for several weeks with limited minutes of under 20 per game, Friday's victory against the Nets brought to light that the Indiana Pacers medical staff has made the decision to decrease the minute restriction and allow for more playing time. Mike Wells reported in his notebook today that both players now have a ceiling of 24 minutes per contest. Dunleavy is recovering from a knee injury, while Hansbrough is still rehabilitating his injured shin.
Maybe it wasn't just having more minutes, but Hansbrough took full advantage of the increased amount of time he spent on the court Friday. The rook dropped 21 points and three steals, while Dunleavy compiled 15 points off the bench. Coach Jim O'Brien on Hansbrough: "He was playing as well as anybody on the team (tonight). We're fortunate he got kicked up another four minutes. His intensity on the court was something we needed."
Hopefully we'll continue to see these minute restrictions go by the way-side through the month of December. We'll see tonight if the minute restriction is any different for Dunleavy and Hansbrough during the second game of a back-to-back. Not only does the lessening of the minute restriction help in games, but hopefully both can contribute and participate more in practice situations as well.
More links after the jump, but before we link it up, here's Hansbrough's reaction to his great game and the team's struggles of late: "I felt good and it felt good to get a win tonight," Hansbrough said. "This win does not erase the losses that we had, but it sure helps out. It's very frustrating to lose but I have to keep working and we have to keep working on our game to get better. We showed up tonight, played hard and won. We see what can happen when you keep pushing and helping each other out. It was a good win and we want it to carry over to tomorrow."
- Box Score
- Photo Gallery
- AP Story
- NBA.com Recap
The Pacers.com Inside the Game where the Stat of the Night was represented by the Pacers holding the Nets to 4-of-20 shooting in the fourth quarter, including 12 misses in a row to start the quarter. Wam, bam, thank ma'am. Other interesting stat was this one -- starters scoring: Nets 68, Pacers 60. Hey, it's an improvement. We can live with that as long as the bench keeps playing the way it does. With Dunleavy's minute restriction starting to increase, we may see him in the starting lineup sooner rather than later.
- Mike Wells notes that it was the happiest of birthdays for the Pacers big man yesterday as Roy "Hungry Hungry" Hibbert went on a feeding frenzy for 20 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. Wells quoted Hibbert, who sank an uncharacteristic 3-pointer late in the game, about his apparently uncanny and lethal ability at draining 3's with the shot clock winding down. "In practice sometimes I win shooting H-O-R-S-E, so I feel I can shoot from out there," Hibbert said about his first 3-pointer of the season.
- In his Pacers Insider post, Wells writes that even though Friday's victory was over the league-worst Nets, well, sometimes a win is just win.
- Examiner's John Oehser provides his recap from the game, and Josh Dhani of Always Miller Time also add his two cents worth here.
- Get the Nets perspective of the game from Nets Are Scorching and The Star-Ledger.
- If you're in the Muncie area or spending a day visiting the confines of my alma mater's Journalism Building next week, you'll be able to catch the Pacers Fan Van at Ball State University on Tuesday. Students, faculty and staff at BSU can show their ID for a free t-shirt as the blue and gold arrive on campus to promote College Night. Check out more info at the BSU Daily News.
- Preview for tonight's matchup against the Wiz.