Eric Yutzy/Eyewitness Sports
Indianapolis - The Pacers get back to the court Tuesday in Washington, DC. Under Coach Frank Vogel, they are 7-3 and they are playing like tough guys.
In fact, for the Pacers these days, there is no substitute for toughness.
"Smashmouth basketball. Blood and guts. Never quitting. All heart, all hustle," said Frank Vogel, coach.
For the Pacers' substitutes, toughness is the only way to bully your way onto the court
"Any loose balls are ours. No second shots. That's kind of our motto," said Tyler Hansbrough, Pacers forward.
"Tough team. When you come to the paint, they put you on the free throw line and foul you, not make it easy," said Dwayne Wade, Heat guard.
"If someone is going to get an easy basket, I'm going to foul you. I'm not going to back down," said Hansbrough.
The blue and gold bench is making their name by playing black and blue basketball. That toughness carries all the way to the end of the bench. The second unit proudly calls themselves the Goon Squad, and it comes with an attitude and an intensity that every one of the embraces.
"We call ourselves the Goon Squad and we take pride in it because we come in there and do the dirty work," said Hansbrough.
"Second unit is the Goon Squad. We try to get in there and do the dirty work," said Paul George, Pacers rookie forward.
"As a unit every single game we only have one goal and one objective and that's to outplay the other teams second unit," said AJ Price, Pacers guard.
Veterans Jeff Foster and Dhantay Jones, second year guys Tyler Hansbrough and AJ Price, and rookie Paul George have become essential to the Pacers' playoff hopes. They finally have the confidence of their coach.
"Our bench is better than most teams' benches. Every game it seems like I'm talking about how our bench gave us a lift. We have a good bench," said Vogel.
"We're not a second unit that comes in as a drop off. In some aspects we come in there and give us a big lift," said Hansbrough.
"No egos. Nobody cares who scores, nobody cares who rebounds, we just do it as a unit. Everybody together, one collective unit," said Price.
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