INDIANAPOLIS – A bit of dread enters the mind of Pacers fans when they hear the word “soreness” associated with Danny Granger’s knee.
But that’s how Frank Vogel described it when talking about the forward’s removal from the Pacers game against the Bulls and then his missing of practice on Tuesday.
“Day-to-day,” is what Vogel said about Granger’s status as he continues to rehab a knee plagued by patella tendonitis.
Those days of frustration were once apart of the daily grind for David West, who suffered a torn ACL while a member of the New Orleans Hornets in 2011. Without the benefit of a full training camp because of the NBA Lockout, getting back to full strength was a season-long proposition for the forward.
“Being patient, staying prepared and taking every game as an individual and a new challenge,” said West when asked about his progress this season.
So far he has been able to meet them all in what could turn out to be one of West’s finest seasons in the NBA. At the moment the forward is leading the Pacers in scoring with 17.7 points a game and continues to show improvement as the season goes on.
West’s game-high 31 points Sunday against the Bulls was the third time that the forward has gone for 30 or more the past month as the Pacers have climbed into second place in the Eastern Conference.
“The NBA is such a long, grueling season. When you winning, it just makes it that much more easy, makes it more fun,” said West of the success of the team. “Obviously coming to work everyday is enjoyable.”
Fans may have enjoyed West’s work more than ever on Sunday when the forward put on a show in front of a national audience. He was 11-of-18 from the field and picked up seven rebounds and came up with the eventual game-winning show with a yeoman’s effort on the offensive end-rebounding his own miss and putting it back in.
He would hit the final two free throws of the game to finish off the 97-92 win over the Bulls.
“Having confidence in those moments, knowing that the team and coaches have faith in me in those moments,” said West on his ability to close out games. “That’s where you’ve got to be strong enough mentally to wanna wins games and be able to deal with the pressure of maybe not being successful or failing in those moments but the make you stronger.”
According to Frank Vogel health along with a new role with the Pacers has aided West in becoming the player the Pacers had hoped for when the signed him in December of 2011.
“He was in a different system than he was in with New Orleans. I think he’s got a different role, more of a leadership role,” said Vogel of West. “The second year after the ACL you’re always stronger than the year after it. I think he’s feeling better physically than he’s been.
“He’s just at a point in his career where he’s truly in his prime and he’s in a situation with a team where he can go for it.”
For the next three months, West will be happy to do so.