Rodney Stuckey Re-aggravates Left Foot vs. Atlanta Hawks

Oct 31, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey (2) stretches out on the sidelines during a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Memphis defeats Indiana 97-89. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 31, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey (2) stretches out on the sidelines during a game against the Memphis Grizzlies at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Memphis defeats Indiana 97-89. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

When it rains, it absolutely pours.  When it sleets and snows, it’s a full-blown blizzard.

The Indiana Pacers walked right into the storm of disaster this season when they managed to lose Paul George due to a broken leg, and Lance Stephenson to the Charlotte Hornets.

Indiana didn’t walk into the season, they barely limped.  Before the start of the regular season, starting point guard George Hill was ruled out for at least three weeks with a knee contusion.  David West, the Pacers’ starting power forward, was ruled out at least the first three games with a sprained ankle.  Obviously, that’s not as severe as Hill’s knee, but it could still have lingering problems throughout the season if he rushed the recovery at age 34.

On top of it all, throw in the injury to backup point guard, C.J. Watson.  Expected to miss at least two weeks with a bruised right foot, Watson was one of their reliant 3-point shooters to complement the bench.  Sometimes, he would be integrated into the starting lineup, as Vogel would experiment with different offenses since they lost so much in the offseason.

In addition, newly-acquired guard Rodney Stuckey was placed on a minutes limit for his first few games as a Pacer.  Stuckey had injured his left foot throughout the preseason, and it forced him to miss several practices before the year began.  He was questionable to even start the season vs. Philadelphia, but head coach Frank Vogel eventually decided he needed depth in the backcourt for 15-20 minutes a night.

In the opener, Stuckey played 16 minutes and returned a terrific production of 16 points on 55.6 percent shooting.  In the second home game — a loss vs. Memphis — Stuckey played just 13 minutes, but still was able to be efficient in his 10 points, scoring on 5-of-10 field goals.  On a point per minute average, Stuckey was giving Indiana roughly 0.9 points per, which is never anything to sneeze at.

Saturday night in Atlanta, the Pacers were facing a double digit deficit in the first quarter and had zero answers for the Hawks.  Jeff Teague and the Atlanta offense had already drawn two fouls on Donald Sloan, who’s been starting in place for the injured George Hill.

After Stuckey had subbed in for Sloan, he played just six minutes and missed his only two shots.  Shortly after, he began hobbling around near the backcourt, and influenced Vogel to call timeout to get him to the sideline.

While everyone believed he could’ve just been winded because of the pace of the game, the conversation Stuckey had with the trainer didn’t look to appealing.  He walked to the locker room, and it was ruled that he would not return due to a sore left foot.

Since Stuckey had already been nursing a sore left foot for the past couple weeks, this news automatically screamed bad exclamations for the Pacers organization.

If you ask teams around the league about how teams fare without their primary backcourt depth, the answers won’t be as optimistic as you would hope.  Just last season, the Los Angeles Lakers missed 319 total games due to injury on their whole roster, including star Kobe Bryant.  319.

They ended up winning 27 games on the season, missing the playoffs by a wide margin.

Last season’s Denver Nuggets, playing without Danilo Gallinari for the whole year, completely fell on their faces with just 36 wins.  It came a year after they made the playoffs as a No. 3 seed.

How do those compare with the Pacers?

Well, Indiana will automatically be losing 82 games to injury due to Paul George’s leg break.  That doesn’t even include the games they’ve missed to start this campaign, with their guards and David West having to sit in a suit and tie.

Stuckey was one of the miniscule bright spots Indiana had during this stretch.  He was their hope to stay alive.

Not only that, but he had the full vote of confidence from Vogel after Wednesday’s win over the 76ers.  Vogel was planning to make Stuckey a starter in the lineup once he was taken off the minutes limit, saying “I think he’ll be a starter and a big minutes guy.”

Now, everything has to be put on hold, much like the Pacers’ championship hopes were after this summer.

Actually, those hopes were put on hold for at least a year.  These injury hopes could be alleviated sooner, rather than later.

Stuckey won’t have a clear indication of how long he’ll have to miss due to the re-aggravation of his left foot until Sunday or Monday.

But, one thing is 100 percent sure for Vogel and the despairing Pacers.  They’re putting all their chips in on Donald Sloan and Solomon Hill for the time being.  For that to work out well and translate into wins, an Indianapolis miracle would have to occur.

Sloan, Hill, and Chris Copeland have all already played over 20 percent of their TOTAL minutes from last season.  It’s only been three games into the year.

After the Pacers were ousted from the Eastern Conference Finals in six games last May, many thought we would see a different group return to the court.  It was supposed to be a different Indiana team in terms of mentality and offensive effort … not a load of different faces.