If someone told you at the beginning of the season that Indiana Pacers‘ Lance Stephenson would have more triple-doubles than LeBron James, you probably would have laughed it off. But that’s exactly how this season has played out thus far, except it appears Stephenson may be giving up on earning any more triple-doubles this season.
This may sound like a far-fetched idea, and it could be, but after watching Stephenson come ever so close to getting his fourth and fifth triple-doubles over the past couple weeks, it’s become apparent that something is off.
Stephenson got his first career triple-double against the Memphis Grizzlies on Nov. 11, 2013. Four games later, Stephenson obtained his second triple-double of the season. During that game, against the Boston Celtics, it was obvious that he was trying to force his way to the triple-double instead of earning it within the flow of the game. But that game set off something within Stephenson that has put him on triple-double watch every game since.
Then came the game that changed everything. On Nov. 29, 2013, the Pacers took on the Washington Wizards, in what almost became Stephenson’s third triple-double in as many weeks. He needed only three points, but instead of letting the game come to him, he began to force it. Pacers’ coach Frank Vogel let Stephenson try for a few minutes until it became apparent that he wasn’t going to get the triple-double the right way, so he yanked him from the game.
The benching didn’t detour Stephenson immediately from continuing his quest of obtaining a triple-double each game. He eventually got his third of the season against Boston once again, on Dec. 22, 2013. But it was another game that Stephenson had to force his way to the triple-double at the end, exactly what Vogel didn’t want.
So, why is there a notion that Lance Stephenson no longer cares about getting a triple-double? It mainly comes from his body language on the court since the Boston game in December. In three out of the nine games since then, Stephenson has been on pace for a triple-double, only to give up in the fourth quarter. Instead of being his normal energetic self, Stephonson would just stand in the corner.
Maybe Stephenson is tired of having Vogel and the rest of the team in his ear every time he has a chance at a triple-double, telling him to calm down and stop forcing it. Maybe he’s been gassed at the end of those games. Either way, Stephenson doesn’t have the same passion in obtaining a triple-double as he did just a month ago.