Rodney Stuckey looked down at his left foot and said it handled Wednesday night’s 16 minutes and 11 seconds without any issues.
Indiana Pacers head coach Frank Vogel had admitted he was somewhat surprised at how efficient Stuckey was from the moment he entered late in the first quarter of a 103-91 victory over Philadelphia at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Stuckey had practiced on a limited basis before the opener due to a strain in that left foot. Vogel admitted the guard returned ahead of schedule. Perhaps that was out of necessity, considering the Pacers started third guard Donald Sloan at the point and needed Stuckey to back up the position.
He did more than that, scoring 10 first-half points to help the Pacers take a lead. He finished with 16, and more importantly, no worries about that foot.
“I’m not really worried about my foot,” he said. “I know it will be fine. It’s going to heal. It’s just a little sprain. The only thing I was thinking about was going out there and trying to be aggressive for my team.
“I was trying to do what I can to give our team a spark. I felt like we came out flat a little bit, were turning the ball over a lot. First game of the season, home opener, the best thing about it is we came out with the victory. We calmed ourselves down and in the second half played better basketball.”
The Pacers outscored the Sixers 30-22 in the third quarter and 25-18 in the fourth to pull away for the double-digit win.
Stuckey will continue to come off the bench as Vogel monitors the minutes. He’ll eventually start, when the Pacers regain some health, most notably point guard George Hill, who is out for at least three weeks with a knee contusion. Hill and Stuckey started in the backcourt during the preseason.
A free-agent addition in the offseason, Stuckey brings seven years of NBA experience to a team in need, considering the Pacers lost All-Star Paul George to a broken leg for probably the season and guard Lance Stephenson bolted in free agency for more money in Charlotte.
“I’m just going to come out and just compete, man, that’s all I can do,” Stuckey said. “When I’m open, shoot the ball. Play with confidence. That’s all I can control, you know, just come out and play hard and compete with my teammates. If we do that, play together, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”
When surrounded earlier by reporters, Stuckey assured the Pacers would eventually work through this spate of injuries.
“We’ll be fine, man,” he said.
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.