Bojan, Bogdan to Have Battle of the Bogdanovics

No, they are not related. No, they are not close friends. But yes, they know one another. And yes, they are sometimes confused for one another. How could there not be, when there’s Bojan Bogdanovic playing for the Pacers and Bogdan Bogdanovic playing for Sacramento.

It figures to be the most unlikely potential case of mistaken identity to come to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday when the two teams meet. There were two John Williams in the NBA at one time in the 90s, Hot Rod and Hot Plate. Mark Jackson and Marc Jackson opposed one another as well in that decade.

The Pacers also had a Roger Brown playing for them in the ABA while another Roger Brown played in the NBA, which was enough to fool the Naismith Hall of Fame into running a photo of the NBA Roger in the program when the ABA Roger was being inducted.

But Bojan and Bogdan are taking it to another level.

“It’s confused a lot of guys,” the Pacers’ Bogdanovic said following Monday’s practice.

Their presence should make life a little more interesting for the teams’ respective broadcasters. Radio listeners will have to remember that Boy-yan plays for the Pacers and Bog-dan plays for Sacramento. Television viewers will have the benefit of uniform identification, but probably will notice some similarities in their style of play that might cloud the issue.

To clarify, Bogdan Bogdanovic is a 25-year-old 6-6 guard from Serbia. The 27th pick in the 2014 draft by Phoenix, he’s a rookie with the Kings. He’s played in their past three games, starting the most recent one when he scored 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting in a loss to Washington. He averages 12.3 points on 51 percent shooting, hitting just 29 percent from the 3-point line.

Bogdan Bogdanovic

Bogdan Bogdanovic goes up for a layup (Photo: Getty Images)

Bojan Bogdanovic, meanwhile, is a 28-year-old 6-8 forward from Croatia. The 31st pick in the 2011 draft by Miami, he’s in his fourth NBA season, his first with the Pacers. He’s started each of their six games and is averaging 11.4 points on 49 percent shooting, 30 percent from the 3-point line.

That last number is the one most noticeable to fans, who might be wondering if the wrong Bogdanovic showed up after the summer free agent signing. Bojan wasn’t brought in to hit 30 percent of his 3-pointers, and doesn’t plan to do so for long. He hit 37 percent last season, 39 percent in his 26 games with Washington, which gave up a first-round draft pick to Brooklyn in a multi-player deal.

He quieted some of the concerns with Sunday’s performance against San Antonio. After hitting just 2-of-15 3-pointers in three preseason games and then 3-of-15 in the first five regular season games, he hit all three attempts on his way to 13 points in the first half against the Spurs. He missed his two second-half attempts and finished with 15 points, but still raised his season percentage to something approaching respectability.

He claimed not to have been putting pressure on himself to make a favorable impression with his new team, but did admit to becoming frustrated with his slow start.

“Sometimes you get nervous because you cannot make shots and then you rush your shot and then you take bad shots and then you get even more nervous,” he said. “I have to keep calm and work on my shots in practice.”

Bogdanovic got going on Sunday in transition, the way it was meant to be this season. He hit his first 3-pointer from the right wing on a fastbreak feed from Victor Oladipo after faking and dribbling to his left to get off the shot. He hit another from the left corner on another fastbreak feed from Oladipo. And then another from the right wing on Domantas Sabonis’ fastbreak feed.

“As a shooter, that’s what he does,” Oladipo said. “A lot of people are packing the paint on my fastbreaks now, so I try to make the right decision when I’m out there. I just have to continue making the right plays.”

Pacers coach Nate McMillan says he wasn’t worried about his shooter’s shooting slump, having seen more than a few of them in his NBA career.

“Guys go through stretches where it’s not falling for them,” McMillan said. “We know he can shoot the ball, that’s why we brought him on board. I never was concerned about that. He’s finding his rhythm, we’re finding ways to use him and take advantage of what he does.

“Finding out how you can fit and how you can help this team is something new for all of our guys.”

Bogdanovic made a few other plays that spoke to the well-rounded nature of his game. He got an assist to Thaddeus Young for a dunk after driving the lane and finding himself in the air with shrinking options, and later fed Young for a layup after faking a a 3-pointer from the left corner. He attacks the basket well, although not as quickly as some NBA players, and seems to know where to be at all times, which is how he scored 13 of his points in transition on Sunday.

McMillan has begun running more plays for him in the halfcourt offense, and eventually will put him in pick-and-roll opportunities.

“I think the strength of his game is his movement,” McMillan said. “He moves off the ball, so you can run him and make defenders chase him. He comes off screens, he does a good job playing off screens, putting the ball on the floor, taking the shot, creating opportunities in transition. He’s a laser (shooter) so he can spread the floor for you.”

Turner on the Court

Myles Turner showed progress in his return from a concussion Monday, taking the court for an individual workout after the rest of the team completed practice.

Working with members of the team’s coaching and training staff at the St. Vincent Center, Turner got up shots, ran the court and performed agility drills. McMillan said he will not play on Tuesday against Sacramento, but hedged on whether he could play on Wednesday at Cleveland.

“It’s a good sign to see him over there moving,” McMillan said. “He’s feeling better.”

Turner, who was seen in the Pacers’ locker room following Sunday’s game, must progress through the NBA’s concussion protocol, which consists of riding a stationary bike, jogging, performing agility drills, and participating in non-contact workouts. He must be symptom-free after each stage, and then a member of the Pacers’ medical staff must talk with the NBA’s director of the protocol.

Sabonis Recovering at Home

Sabonis missed Monday’s practice with the head cold that made Sunday’s game so uncomfortable for him.

It didn’t show in his play, however, as he scored a career-high 22 points on 9-of-9 shooting and matched his career-high with 12 rebounds.

“He was beat up last night,” McMillan said. “We knew that going into the game. The guy never said a word, just went out and played hard and had a near-perfect game. He got worse last night (after the game) and they (the Pacers’ training staff) decided to leave him at home today.”

Sabonis was listed as questionable for Tuesday’s game.

Young Gets Early Look

Joe Young made a rare first-half appearance against the Spurs, subbing for Collison with 2:57 left in the first quarter. McMillan’s call to action took him by surprise, just as it did the fans who are accustomed to seeing him play only in “garbage time.”

Young’s early entrance was indirectly related to Oladipo picking up a second foul with 5:38 left, and being subbed out by backup point guard Cory Joseph. McMillan wanted to give Collison a break and Lance Stephenson was already in the game at small forward, so Young got the call.

“He’s been working his behind off in practice every single day,” McMillan said. “I’ve talked to him about always being ready because you don’ know when that opportunity is going to come.”

Young also played the first 3 minutes, 19 seconds of the second period, and hit a 3-pointer to open the scoring.

Young, a second-round draft pick beginning his third season with the Pacers, is said to have worked hard on improving his body over the summer, and has become a much better defender.

“He did a nice job guarding Patty Mills, not only pressuring but contesting his shots,” McMillan said. “And on offense he could play off the ball (with Stephenson controlling it). He gave us a good eight minutes.”

Young played late in the third period and early in the fourth as well, but did not score.


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