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Lance Stephenson’s career-high 28 points lead Pacers to blowout win over Knicks

Jan 16, 2014, 10:20 PM EDT

Boston Celtics  v Indiana Pacers Getty Images

The Pacers will almost certainly have two players representing their team at All-Star weekend in New Orleans in Paul George and Roy Hibbert, with George likely to be voted in as a starter by the fans, and Hibbert likely to be selected as a reserve by the Eastern Conference coaches.

It’s also possible that the team with the league’s best record, now at 31-7 after a thorough 117-89 demolition of the New York Knicks, may see a third player added to the midseason exhibition in Lance Stephenson.

Stephenson has been huge all season long for the Pacers, posting triple-double stat lines more than once while making the leap from hit-or-miss role player a season ago to legitimate NBA starter who demands the attention of the defense. He posted a career-high 28 points in Thursday’s blowout win over the Knicks, which was a team-best for the night and tied Carmelo Anthony for game-high scoring honors.

New York actually led this game 31-30 after one, thanks to a hot start from Anthony that saw him score 18 points in the period on just eight shots. But his teammates couldn’t provide much help offensively, and injuries suffered during the game took away two of the Knicks’ key defenders.

Kenyon Martin left in the second quarter with an ankle injury and did not return, and later Amar’e Stoudemire left in the third quarter with something similar. Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said afterward that both players would likely miss the next few games.

J.R. Smith was back in the lineup after his second suspension in recent days, and played fine in finishing with 12 points on 12 shots in 28 minutes of action. But messing with the team’s chemistry after it had put together a streak of wins proved costly, and between the lineup shuffling and the injuries — along with facing the league’s best team record-wise on the road — the Knicks didn’t have a shot.

As for Stephenson’s All-Star chances, the East is so weak this year that it may very well be decided that there’s nothing wrong with the Pacers having three players make the squad. If that’s the case, Stephenson will likely get the nod over teammate David West, and then will have to battle it out among the coaches for what might only be one available reserve backcourt spot. And when you take away the injured stars in the conference, it may come down to Stephenson or someone like DeMar DeRozan, Arron Afflalo, or Joe Johnson — all of whom have numbers showing they’re deserving, but only Stephenson has the wins that may solidify his case.

  1. apkyletexas - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:31 PM

    Stephenson > Wade

    • money2long - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:52 PM

      while hearing a pacers game this season, i heard an announcer say he’s heard rumbles of stepenson possibly garnering a max contract

      any thoughts

      • theromeo2k - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:42 AM

        I don’t think any team can or should give him a max contract. This guy is another JR Smith type of player. He’s a double edged sword that can help your team when his head is cool and hurt your team a lot for no reason.

      • naterich21 - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:48 AM

        If Batum can get a max contract, pretty much anyone can

      • money2long - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:11 AM

        a lot of thumbs down i see. let’s see how this plays out.

    • davidly - Jan 17, 2014 at 8:00 AM

      Even if I value him more from a personal fan preference standpoint, I have to say you are wrong on this one. Now, if Stephenson ever begins to granted the ability to draw foul calls when he charges, then your equation will come to fruition. But I cannot pretend that he is already better from a pure consistent basketball player perspective. Soon, maybe… I hope.

  2. norcalkingsfan - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    Bird likes him. That says a lot.

    He’ll be an allstar, eventually; especially in the east.

  3. 1972wasalongtimeago - Jan 17, 2014 at 1:03 AM

    Pacers are playing awesome right now. Any chance we’re going to get some “peaking too early” talk?

    • cantonbound13 - Jan 17, 2014 at 7:41 AM

      Isn’t that the same complaint your wife had about you?

      • davidly - Jan 17, 2014 at 7:57 AM

        “That’s what she said” would have sufficed.

  4. dysraw1 - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:24 AM

    its been a while since ive posted anything on PBT. anger bitterness and just plain not being happy with team play.however last night i watched my guys get beat down by a team that’s ready. a team that totally exposed my crew. as a fan i was burning up watching how weak we were defensively, ok the pacers are by far better than knicks. but that does not mean that you don’t stand your ground against the mighty the other night the Bobcats beat us i wasn’t mad at all. there are just some teams that have your number. last night game there sort of let me get ass kicked and go home type attitude, that’s totally unacceptable

  5. indrathegod - Jan 17, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Did I really just see a comment with someone saying Stephenson is better than Wade? What is this world coming to.

    28 points for a career high? Laughable.

    • svupper - Jan 17, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      In this state of his carrier and with all his injuries, I’d take Lance over Wade.. I might even consider Monta over Wade..

  6. indrathegod - Jan 17, 2014 at 2:18 PM

    That’s pretty interesting considering these season facts for 13-14:

    Wade – 19.2PPG / 4.8APG / 4.9RPG / 22.15 PER (!) / 54% FG, 42% 3P

    Ellis – 20PPG / 6APG / 3.3RPG / 18.09 PER / 45% FG, 30% 3P

    Stephenson – 13.7PPG / 5.1APG / 6.6RPG / 15.65 PER / 50% FG, 35% 3P

    Although it’s easy to down Wade and jump on the bandwagon of people who say he’s ‘lost it’, numbers just don’t lie. He is STILL one of the TOP 3 SG’s in the league with P. George and J. Harden (who in comparison are COMPLETELY HEALTHY). Give credit when it’s due….don’t sound like a bitter ex-girlfriend.

    • svupper - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM

      Dont get me wrong, Im not saying Wade dont have it anymore, cause when he plays he is a beast..

      But i’d rather have a player you didnt have to rest, when you play back-to-back games and is a constant injury risk.. I love Harden too, but its kinda the same scenario, hes a beast WHEN he plays.. So im sticking to my original claim, i would pick Lance over Wade..

      And i dont see George as a SG, i know he play a little from time to time, but he is still Pacers starting SF :)

  7. dbfan4ever - Jan 17, 2014 at 10:09 PM

    Vogel is the coach lance will be added to the roster

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