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"Earlier in the season, guys didn't know it they were dressing or if they were sitting out or if they were going to play," Bird said. "Under Frank, we sort of knew the three guys who weren't going to dress. They knew their roles. There's a lot more communication. I think the last 25, 30 games, Frank did a good job of letting the players know where they stood."
Once roles became clear, the locker-room environment improved.
"We came together as a team," Vogel said. "That doesn't always happen, where guys really pull for each other and genuinely care for each other, fight for each other, work for each other and really just come together as a team in the true sense of the word. That's what I'm most proud of with this team."
The Pacers won seven of their first 10 under Vogel, then hit a stretch in which they dropped 8 of 9. Indiana rallied to win 10 of its next 15 and clinch a postseason berth.
"My message at that point was that competition has a way of raising the level of your play, and it worked out that way," Vogel said.
Bird likes the way the Pacers finished the season.
"At the end of the season, he got them back," he said. "We probably performed as well in the playoffs than at any part of the season. That's a good sign."
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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