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Should Team Show More Faith In Peja?...

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Should Team Show More Faith In Peja?

Thursday, April 6, 2006
Conrad Brunner

Q.Does the team need to have more faith in Peja (Stojakovic)? On multiple occasions during the final quarter of the Bulls game, Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O'Neal would take their man in the post, draw a double-team (leaving Peja wide open) and still take the shot instead of kicking it out for 3-pointer. Isn't this the exact play we brought Peja here for and have talked about all the time O'Neal was sidelined? (From Tommy in Indianapolis)

There have been some hitches and glitches along the way as the Pacers players and coaches have tried to figure out the best way to deploy Stojakovic but, overall, he generally has flourished since joining the team. His averages since joining the team (19.2 points, 6.4 rebounds) are much better than they were with the Kings and, though he has struggled a bit with his shot recently, he generally has fit in quite well.

Since O'Neal returned nine games ago, his scoring opportunities haven't diminished at all. Stojakovic has averaged 14.8 field-goal attempts in 32 games with the Pacers. In eight games he has played with O'Neal (who missed one to rest his sore groin), Stojakovic has averaged 15.0 shots, the most on the team. In that same span, Jackson has averaged 14.1 shots and O'Neal 12.6.

When a team has three quality scoring options, there has to be a commitment to ball movement. The Pacers have struggled with that, particularly of late, but the Toronto game offered some encouraging signs. For the first time, all three of the team's primary weapons were effective in the same game. Stojakovic didn't shoot well but consistently got to the line, making 12 free throws and scoring 25. Jackson had a solid 25-point night and O'Neal had a strong all-around game with 18 points, nine rebounds, five blocks and four assists.

What remains to be seen is how effectively Stojakovic will be used in clutch situations, when the ball has, thus far, tended to stop with Jackson and/or O'Neal. For the Pacers to succeed in those situations they need to maintain their commitment to ball and player movement and shed the trend to go one-on-one. Team play makes individuals look better, not vice versa.

Good answer Bruno.

Go PaCeRs!!!!!!
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