The Pacers have been able to weather a series of injuries because of surprising contributions from players such as JaKarr Sampson, writes J. Michael of The Indianapolis Star. Now with his fifth NBA team, Sampson didn’t create much fanfare when he signed with Indiana in August. He’s averaging just 4.9 points per game, but his other contributions have helped make up for the loss of Thaddeus Young in free agency.
“You can’t look at a stat sheet for guys like him,” teammate Myles Turner said of Sampson. “He brings so much more to the game. Intensity. We feed off his energy.”
Sampson is suddenly getting an opportunity after missing 22 games with a back injury. He played 20 minutes Friday night after finding out 10 minutes before the game that he was starting because Domantas Sabonis had to sit out with a sore knee.
“I know I’m able to play this game at the highest level,” Sampson said. “I knew what I was walking into when I came to this team. They have two great players at the 4 and 5 (Sabonis and Turner).”
There’s more from the Central Division:
- The Pacers are turning down trade requests for Turner, according to Zach Lowe of ESPN. Indiana has a lot of money invested in Turner and Sabonis, but wants to see how the team responds once Victor Oladipo returns from injury before considering a move.
- The Bucks don’t seemed bothered by continued speculation about Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s future, tweets Eric Woodyard of ESPN. “I think the team’s been incredibly focused, he’s been incredibly focused just on each day, getting better, competing with his group and being respectful of what we’re doing now,” coach Mike Budenholzer said.
- Cavaliers players are eager to move past the latest John Beilein controversy, relays Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com. In comments that he later apologized for, the coach caused a stir this week when he said his team was “no longer playing like a bunch of thugs” when he meant to say “slugs.” “He says it all the time, so it’s all good,” Collin Sexton said. “He calls us slugs, because we slow. But it’s good. We knew what he meant, just blown out of proportion.”