Indiana Pacers

Derrick Rose: ‘My game is totally different’

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Derrick Rose hasn’t played a game in front of his hometown fans in Chicago in almost nine months, after suffering a knee injury last November that once again put a premature end to one of his NBA seasons.

That changes on Saturday, when Rose will be in the starting lineup for Team USA as they take on Brazil in an exhibition game at the United Center.

Rose seemed to be pressing a bit the last time he returned from injury, which was at the beginning of the 2014 season. He missed all of 2013 due to a torn ACL suffered near the end of the 2012 regular season.

This time, however, Rose is feeling much more confident — in part due to the way he feels that his game has changed.

From Nick Friedell of ESPN Chicago:

“My game is totally different,” Rose said. “When I came back last time, I was just trying to get in a groove. I think I felt a nice little groove. My confidence is high right now, and I think even playing in the game [Saturday] you’ll be able to see by the way that I attack the players defensively. And by the way I play offensively, just not rushing anything and just taking my time on pick and rolls and just letting the play develop.”

Since Team USA camp opened over two weeks ago in Las Vegas, Rose has been open about the fact he was pressing during his initial comeback last season from a torn ACL in his left knee. …

“I think he’s improving,” said Chicago Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau, an assistant coach with Team USA. “I think his approach is a lot better. I think he was so anxious last year to come back, he was almost forcing things. I think he has a much better understanding now. Show more patience, find the rhythm of the game, go out there run the team.”

Rose has discussed previously how he isn’t seeking contact as much on drives to the basket in order to lessen the wear and tear on his body, and so far, the signature sharp changes of direction, both on the perimeter and in the paint, seem to have lessened, as well.

Some wondered if Rose (or any of his USA Basketball teammates) would have been shaken enough by the injury to Paul George to reconsider participating with the team this summer. But after missing almost all of two consecutive NBA seasons, playing a key role in helping his team compete at the FIBA World Cup feels like something Rose needs — both for his confidence to continue to grow, as well as for him to get more acclimated to the way his game has changed.

Another Pacers’ number change, Solomon Hill going from 9 to 44

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This isn’t going to get as much attention as Paul George switching to No.13, but apparently they are not done yet playing musical numbers in Indiana.

Solomon Hill, who played as No. 9 last season, is switching to No. 44, reports Scott Agness of Vigilant Sports. He’s switching to the same number he wore in college at Arizona.

Hill is going to get a lot more run (and may start) in the wake of George’s injury. Hill played sparingly in 28 games as a rookie for the Pacers last season, showing flashes of progress but generally looking like a rookie trying to adjust to the NBA. This year he gets thrown into the fire.

According to Basketball-Reference.com there has been a long list of guys who have worn No. 44: Bobby Edmonds (1968), Ron Perry (1969), Tom Thacker (1970-1971), Mike Flynn (1976-1978), Tony Zeno (1980), Dick Miller (1981), John Duren (1983), Dwayne McClain (1986), Kyle Macy (1987), Kenny Williams (1991-1994), Austin Croshere (1998-2006), Courtney Sims (2008), Solomon Jones (2010-2011), and Kyrylo Fesenko (2012).

Paul George says number change to 13 (PG-13) was about coming into his own

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It’s a marketing thing.

Paul George is a rising star in the basketball world trying to crossover into the world where even casual sports fans — and even some non-sports fans — know who he is. A catchy nickname like PG-13 helps with that. (Plus it was a nice touch he bought up all his old jerseys on the market and donated them to his high school.)

George explained the move speaking to Vigilant Sports, noting that this was not easy.

“I was just superstitious about changing my number,” he said. “Being with 24 for as long as I can remember. It’s always been one of my favorite numbers, and being a big Kobe [Bryant] fan growing up had a little bit to do with it. I was superstitious about it….

“And the whole thing behind PG-13 is just coming into my own. I feel like I’m at that stage where I’m ready to embrace everything that comes with being one of the young stars in this league. Everyone knows PG-13 is related to television, so the whole thing is being able to enjoy the show and being fun to watch.”

Of course, people know who he is now for another reason — the horrific leg break he suffered in the USA Basketball showcase in Las Vegas a few weeks back. One that will almost certainly keep him out all of next season.

But that can be part of the story long-term now — another hurdle he had to overcome. George was not highly recruited out of high school, and even coming out of college to the NBA he was taken behind Wesley Johnson, Evan Turner, and Al-Farouq Aminu among others. His basketball career has been about being underestimated, working hard and overcoming the odds. This is just another chapter in that.

It could make one of those feel good, cheesy, Disney sports movies… probably rated PG-13.

Paul George: ‘I’ll be able to battle through this’ (VIDEO)

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Paul George has an entire NBA career based around being overlooked, counted out, then working hard and blowing away expectations.

Listening to him at his press conference in Indiana Friday, the first time he spoke to the media since his horrific injury in the Team USA Showcase in Las Vegas, that’s his motivation again. And I wouldn’t bet against him.

My PBT Extra tag-team partner Jenna Corrado brings you the update.

Paul George says he will bounce back, wants to play for Team USA in Brazil Olympics

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Paul George is a guy that worked too hard to get here to just roll over. He was overlooked coming out of high school in Palmdale, undervalued coming out of college at Fresno State, and now he’s an All-Star NBA player. He got there with some natural gifts and an impressive work ethic to hone those skills every offseason, then to play hard every night.

That’s not the kind of guy to let an injury stop him.

George met with the media in Indianapolis for the first time since his horrific injury breaking his tibia and fibula in a USA Basketball exhibition game in Las Vegas. All he talked about was coming back. Here are some highlights, via Marc Spears of Yahoo Sports and Michael Lee of the Washington Post.

USA Basketball came under a lot of criticism in the wake of the injury — from where the stanchions were placed to the demands on players time — but George was having none of it.

Meaning he wants to be on Team USA in 2016 when the plane heads to Rio for the Olympics.

As for talking about the injury itself:

I’d be shocked if we saw George back on the court next season. Aside the basic healing timeline, even if he pushed to get back for the end of the season this is not going to be a Pacers’ season he wants to rejoin. They are in for a tough year.

But when he comes back in the fall of 2015, watch out.