The 30-7 (.811) Indiana Pacers clinched the best record in their conference (and highest winning percentage in the League) by virtue of a 116-92 win over the Sacramento Kings. Frank Vogel will thereby coach the East All-Star team in New Orleans next month. Per the Indy Star:
“I’m excited for our organization,” Vogel said. “For (President) Larry Bird and (General Manager) Kevin Pritchard for putting this team together, for the players, for our trainers. My name is on the release, but this is recognition of our team’s success. It’s a team honor, and I’m really excited about it.”
There are several reasons the Pacers have clinched the conference’s best record nearly a month before the cutoff date — Miami’s Erik Spoelstra coached the All-Stars last year and would be ineligible to return even if the Heat surpass the Pacers before Feb. 2. You could always credit the team defense, the rising star in (Paul) George who scored 31 points on 10-of-18 shooting, and the improved roster from top to bottom. However, the leadership provided by a former video coordinator cannot be overlooked.
“It seems like we’ve grown together. I’m happy for him,” said George, who will most certainly join Vogel in New Orleans for the Feb. 16 All-Star game. “This is going to be a fun trip. I’m looking forward to being down there with him. I came in here with him. He’s the one dude I respect the most on this team. He’s really coached me through a lot of things and made me better as a player. So it’s amazing.”