Rodney Stuckey concedes there’s never a night off when trying to guard NBA point guards.
The Indiana Pacers’ point guard starts naming names. The challenge was Atlanta’s Jeff Teague on Monday night. It will be the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul on Wednesday, Toronto’s Kyle Lowry on Friday and Portland’s Damian Lillard on Saturday.
Teague shined in his hometown with 21 points and seven assists in the Hawks’ 108-92 romp over the Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Unfortunately for Indiana, it’s been a continual struggle to defend the likes of Teague, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving, Washington’s John Wall, San Antonio’s Tony Parker and the list goes on and on. During the Pacers’ current five-game losing streak, opposing point guards have averaged 23 points per game and are a plus-88 points combined in plus-minus.
While the Pacers have had many obstacles to overcome in a 7-14 start, defending the point is at or near the top of the list.
In seven wins, opposing point guards have averaged 12.4 points, are minus-15 points combined and shot 40 percent. In 14 losses, opposing point guards have averaged 20 points, are plus-147 points combined and shot 48.6 percent.
“There’s some great guards in this league,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “It’s almost like a point guard era. It seems like you’re playing against an elite guy every single night.”
Teague was a bit better than his seasonal averages of 19.1 points and 7.1 assists. Next up, Paul, who averages 18.1 points and 9.9 assists, the latter number ranking third in the league. Lowry averages 20.3 points and 7.2 assists.
Lillard averages 19.9 points and 6.3 assists. The Pacers have already faced him once. Lillard scored a game-high 23 points in Portland’s 88-82 home win on Thursday.
“It’s basketball, man. NBA,” Stuckey said. “You’ve got to be ready for it. You’ve got to come out and compete.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.