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News » Jack has the last laugh on Pacers

Jack has the last laugh on Pacers

Jack has the last laugh on Pacers Tuesday night was always going to be emotional for Raptors reserve guard Jarrett Jack, facing his former Pacers team led by his ex-teammate and rival for starting point guard, T.J. Ford.

It was messy. Eight months ago there had been that physical dustup and shouting match between the two players during a timeout in a mid-March loss to the Mavericks. Jack was banished to the locker room by coach Jim O'Brien. When Jack became a free agent, the Pacers let him go to the Raptors with no counter-offer.

Coach Jay Triano, understanding what was on the way last night in terms of personal issues for Jack, did his best to ease him into the game, keeping his man on the bench until there was just 2: 50 left in the first quarter.

Ford was firmly on the bench.

Triano handled Jack's night with a deft touch that paid off in the second half.

In the first half, Jack was able to take care of emotions, while in the second he was able to take care of business. Playing the entire second and fourth quarters often alongside fellow point guard Jose Calderon, Jack scored 17 points on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting night, with six assists and three rebounds in a 123-112 victory heading back onto the road.

"He's different right now," Triano said of his ever-improving free agent. "He's lighter off the floor. He's liking Basketball now. He's beginning to know his role."

Jack seems perfectly at ease with his new teammates both on and off the court.

Last year was different. Jack and Ford had been co-point guards. The setup didn't work for the Pacers, just as it hadn't worked between Ford and Mo Williams in Milwaukee or Ford and Calderon with the Raps. In those situations it was always Ford that left.

Ford is a shooting guard in a point guard's body, while Jack is a point guard in a shooting guard's body. As a Pacers combination they were toxic.

Jack had to have strong emotions in his first time back on the floor against Indiana.

"Coach Alvin Williams always talks to me about staying even-keeled," Jack insisted. "My emotions not getting too up, not getting too down but staying right in the middle and being able to put myself and everyone else in a successful position."

This was a game Jack likely had circled since his first peek at the schedule, although he didn't admit it.

"I have every game circled on my calendar," Jack said. "That's not trying to be politically correct. I get excited for every single game and I think that's why I played 82 games in consecutive seasons. I love game day. I can't wait to play Charlotte."

Triano knew better. He glued Jack to the bench early on, waiting until 2: 50 left in the first quarter before subbing him in.

In the first six minutes he played without Ford on the floor, he scored two points, with nothing across the board. By the half, playing much of that time against his arch-rival, Jack had nine points, three assists and a steal.

Whereas the first half was personal business, the second half became team business as the Pacers clawed back, cutting the Raptors' lead to five points with 38 seconds left in the third quarter.

The Pacers began the third with a 26-16 run. When Jack entered, for Calderon it was no longer to prove something personal. It was for the team. Jack took control of the offence and helped fend off a furious run.

When Calderon re-entered it was to play alongside Jack, a move that worked well giving Triano an extra option.

"I felt extra energized," Jack said. "That may have something to do with me playing against my old team. I felt I was in a good rhythm. I just came out flying."

The Pacers chapter of Jack's life is now closed with Triano's help. As they left the court, Calderon gave Ford a hug and a smile. Jack gave Ford a handshake and a glance.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: November 25, 2009


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