Lavoy Allen 'has got to play'

Pacers are adamant the reserve forward must continue to get quality minutes because of his team-leading rebounding.

When center Roy Hibbert returns to the lineup tonight at Phoenix, the Indiana Pacers will finally have all of their “bigs” in uniform for the first time this NBA season.

That prompted a question to coach Frank Vogel: Can he still get reserve forward/center Lavoy Allen quality minutes?

“Yes,” Vogel said without hesitation after the Pacers’ 98-83 home win Friday over the Orlando Magic.

How will Vogel do that?

“I”m not sure yet,” the coach said with a smile. “But he’s not going to spend a lot of time on the bench, the way he’s playing.”

The fourth-year reserve has earned the respect and admiration of his coach and players for his tenacity on the boards. Allen has a team-high 137 rebounds, an 8.1 average per game. He’s also averaging 7.3 points on 49.2 percent shooting.

After forward David West’s triumphant return from a sprained ankle against the Magic, he said, “We’ve got one of the best rebounders in the NBA in Lavoy. He’s a legitimate threat on that glass. You’ve got to account for him. He keeps possessions alive.”

The team leader was emphatic about Allen deserving quality minutes.

“He’s got to play because he’s a very good basketball player,” West said. “He’s effective. He provides something to this team that’s very valuable. Like I said, you’ve got to account for him. He’s poised. He’s got to play.”

Hibbert said recently that Allen excels at getting “man rebounds,” going in against two and three opponents and coming away with the basketball.

Allen is understated and just says he’ll do “whatever it takes.” He doesn’t care about his numbers, especially after losses. He just wants to do whatever it takes to win.

Vogel said that he will consider playing Allen at a forward or center spot, depending on the situation.

The Pacers (7-10) started a four-game road trip with a Saturday loss at Cleveland. After facing the Suns, who handed Indiana a 106-83 drubbing on Nov. 22 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers visit Portland Thursday and Sacramento Friday.

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

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