What has gotten into Rodney Stuckey?
The Pacers guard is suddenly thriving after what appears to be a permanent move to a sixth-man role off the bench. His back-to-back 30-point games in wins over Philadelphia and Golden State were as efficient as they were impressive, and as Mark Montieth notes, a first for the Pacers.
He scored 30 points in less than 29 minutes against the Warriors, hitting 11-of-17 shots, despite the fact he had sprained his left ankle in Philadelphia on Friday and was questionable for the game. That makes three consecutive appearances off the bench in which Stuckey has averaged 25.3 points, averaging more than a point a minute. He's hit 28-of-43 field goal attempts (65 percent), including 6-of-10 three-pointers in those three games and, having scored 30 in Philly as well, he's the first Pacers player - ever - to score 30 points off the bench in consecutive games. And, oh yeah ... the Pacers won all three games.
The efficiency in the past two games were nearly identical as Stuckey pumped in a combined 60 points on 33 shots attempts in just 56 minutes of court time. Maybe those close to Stuckey had a heart-to-heart over the All-Star break to remind to talented guard that he was playing on a minimum contract and still had to take advantage of his remaining opportunities to get paid next season.
Whatever the reason, the current hot streak from Stuckey adds to a trend the Pacers have enjoyed when they've played their best ball this season. Often one or two guys step up to do the heavy lifting but rarely is it the same one or two guys. C.J. Miles has struggled at times, but also been a monster factor in wins. David West, George Hill, Donald Sloan, Luis Scola, Roy Hibbert -- they've all had their moments in the lead role and Frank Vogel has been able to ride those hot hands as the game unfolds.
But for now, Stuckey is rolling in the hot seat from a reserve role which has the Pacers rolling as they pursue a playoff spot in the East.
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