Solomon Hill earning more minutes

Forward is stepping up all-around game in second season.

Solomon Hill has been asserting himself more the past couple of games.

Because the Indiana Pacers have lost three consecutive games, it might be easy to overlook the second-year forward’s obvious progression in a 1-3 start.

Head coach Frank Vogel likes Hill’s tenacity. He mentions the words “hard” and “toughness,” and reminds Hill is just four games into playing a primary role.

Hill was overlooked as a rookie because the former first-round pick didn’t do much last season. He averaged just 1.7 points in 28 games as a reserve and played only one minute in one playoff game.

Injuries to Paul George, David West, George Hill and C.J. Watson have provided Hill, known as “Solo,” an opportunity to step up his game this season. He’s always prided himself in being able to do everything, be it play stingy defense, rebound, hit the outside shot and, with the depletion at point guard, he’s even handled the ball more.

While Hill chided himself for four turnovers in Tuesday’s 87-81 home loss to Milwaukee, he did score a career-high 12 points. It would have been 15 but a 3-pointer rimmed in and out in the final quarter.

The output bettered his previous scoring best of 10 points, set in his last start in a loss at Atlanta Saturday. Rodney Stuckey’s early exit against the Hawks saw Hill fill in admirably at point guard to spell Donald Sloan. Hill had a career-high six assists.

Hill has bumped his scoring average to 7.5 points, and more importantly, he’s looking more for his shot. One of his best plays against the Bucks was an inside spin move for a power lay-in. He hit one 3-pointer and had five rebounds and two steals in the loss.

He’ll keep logging minutes as the Pacers visit Washington Wednesday night.

Here’s a video from Hill, as well as forward Chris Copeland and Vogel talking about “Solo” after Tuesday’s game.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.

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