Pacers happy to get more ‘good Lance’ than ‘bad Lance’

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com


VIDEO: TNT’s Rachel Nichols previews Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals

INDIANAPOLIS – For casual NBA fans who haven’t paid much attention to Indiana’s tightly wound shooting guard, these Eastern Conference finals might not provide a glimpse of Lance Stephenson in all his blazing glory.

Stephenson, a bundle of emotions good and bad most of the time, is trying to be on his best behavior against the Miami Heat. That means cooling it on the technical fouls and the trash talk, and reining in some of his on-court gyrations and expressions.

A less fun Lance? Absolutely. But also a less volatile Lance, a player less likely to give away points via free throws or put coach Frank Vogel in a rotation bind if he fouls out, gets tossed or just needs to be yanked to calm the heck down.

In Miami’s March 26 visit to Bankers Life Fieldhouse this season, Stephenson got two technical fouls and an ejection midway through the fourth quarter. He’s the guy who talked jokingly before this series about trying to wear out Dwyane Wade‘s sore knee, only to have it generate a minor controversy.

In fact, Stephenson is excitable enough that you sense the Heat almost count on him to spill over at some point, possibly goading him in hopes of making that happen.

Fortunately for Indiana, after multiple talks with teammates and coaches, the fourth-year guard is aware of it. He claims to have it under control.

“Uh, playing against the Heat, I’ve got to calm down my little antics,” Stephenson said Monday afternoon after Pacers practice. “So I decided I’m not gonna do none of that. I’m just going to stay poised and just play with my team.”

Like a lot of players, Stephenson believes that his emotions fuel his game. So might putting them on a leash stifle his play?

“I mean, when I do some dances or stuff and get the crowd involved, I actually play better,” he said. “But if it’s gonna help my teammates and it helps me stay in the game, I’m definitely not going to do that.”

Playing muzzled in Indiana’s past two games, however, hasn’t hurt Stephenson. Both in the opener against the Heat and in the Game 6 clincher against Washington, he had 17 points and eight assists, shooting a combined 16-of-25. The talks with Vogel, the reminders from fellow Pacers look to be paying off.

“He’s learned to be a professional,” Paul George said of Stephenson. “He’s just an emotional person. That’s what we need, though. We need a guy with that energy, that toughness.

“He gets out of hand sometimes, but we can live with most of it.”

18 Comments

  1. Blog-So-Hard-2014-NBA-Playoff-Edition says:

    Pacers: Evan Turner?? Andrew Bynum?? WTF??

  2. Python says:

    I don’t like Lance (out of respect b/c I’m a Miami fan lol.Lance giving James the choke sign smh) but I do agree with you about his talents Troyboy. Lance is one of the best in the NBA and has so much room for growth. Watching Lance in HS, Lance was a man child having his way and even then Lance seek help from trainers to get better. Lance first struggled in the NBA but worked hard in the off season to get better as a player and even seek help to become a better person off the court. Any team would be happy with Lance, including Miami lol. I really hope he gets a big payday and reach his full potential as a player and a man.

  3. okc2014 says:

    Lance Stephenson is a good basketball player, but still a trash talking fool.

  4. RON says:

    Lance who?

  5. KB says:

    I’m pretty sure you guys would all love Lance if he was on your team, so I’m not sure what there is to diss. I know I’ll be devastated if he signs elsewhere next season.

  6. BB Fan says:

    Lance is a dirty player with a big mouth………. Heat got this!!!!

    Go Heat!!!

  7. TROYBOY says:

    This article is not for me because I followed Lance throughout the year. So let me get sidetrack here and say something about Lance.

    If I was with the Lakers. Instead of trying to get a player this season to replace Kobe when he leaves, Lance is probably the best one available that make sense. And this is why.

    There are not a lot of #1s in this league. LBJ, KD, and maybe Paul George. They are in their prime. Those players won’t play in LA as long as Kobe is there. Number 1s don’t want another 1 telling them how to play (Dwight Howard… for ex). Lance has the potential to be a top 5 player in 3 years. Lance is the closest thing to Magic as far as style. And his style fits the LA market. This might be their best chance if they offer a price Larry Bird can’t match. He has the swag that even Paul George doesn’t have and having him while Kobe is still around will help him understand Laker Basketball. At this point, Kobe can’t be a mentor to a #1 or a former #1 player. But he can be a mentor to an uprising player. And Lance is that player.

    Now, with all that been said. This will work out better if the Pacers win a ring this year. That will allow him to move on and not think he did Larry dirty because Lance owes it to the Legend for sticking by his side when everybody else doubted him.

    • MrHegemony says:

      Agreed. If Lance leaves, another team is going to win out big time.

    • Jalen Steve says:

      Very good observations Troyboy, The only three teams that it would make any sense for Lance to consider in free agency would be the Lakers, Knicks, and Nets. He would be best served to stay where he is, as he will be in near-certain championship contention for the next 5-10 years since Paul George and Hibbert aren’t going anywhere. But he will be tempted by the offer that the Lakers will certainly make, and the chance to become the ‘next’ Magic. If the Pacers beat the Heat and acquit themselves well in The Finals, it will be very interesting to see what happens. I would hate for Stephenson to leave and doubt that he will because his parents love Indianapolis and the Pacers (which is an under-rated and under-reported X factor).

  8. jean W says:

    Calm down your little antics or not Heat will win the series , starting tonight . Let’s go Heat

  9. He needs to do what he said he was going to do, and that’s keep his cool. If he can’t do that, then goodbye series.

  10. t baby says:

    well Good for Lance he is not who Miami is concerned with and as far a that knee comment he was wrong for that Lebron and bosh have better Games tonight believe that. HEAT NATION!!!!!!!

  11. t baby says:

    well Miami is not worried about him we have to go on the court tonight and play heat ball

  12. sally says:

    you can take the player out of the ghetto but you can’t take the ghetto out of the player, he is what he is and he won’t change anything. He will go nowhere….trust me !! They say he’s just emotional ????? that’s not emotion that’s stupidity and at this point, he will always be that way. Watch !!!

    • Jeb smitter says:

      Sally, watch much sports? Who is the highest paid Cornerback in the NFL now? Showing your emotion is not always a bad thing. Use your head Slurpie Sally, think before you speak! How did Dennis Rodman fair in the NBA??? How is the career of Kevin Garnett???? What did you think of Allen Iverson??? Did they all come out of the ghetto? Sally, you are a racist, and you know nothing about professional sports. You obviously cannot control your emotions when Miami gets dominated by another basketball team. Try to have intelligent discussion on here, and you go talk about what cigarettes help you most with your mental illness.

    • BonnieBear29 says:

      @sally Give the guy a break, you can’t pick where you’re born. He’s only 23, he’s just now becoming an adult. People can still change when they’re young (and even when they’re old.)

  13. slider821 says:

    “He gets out of hand sometimes, but we can live with most of it.”

    tell that to Lance’s ex-girlfriend…

  14. okcDoke2014 says:

    Good Game, Spurs win a well fought battle! Go Pacers but Heat are tough to take two games straight against just like the Thunder look like they might be too…………..