INDIANAPOLIS -- Darren Collison and Dahntay Jones are back in very familiar territory.
Collison played for the Indiana Pacers the past two seasons, while Jones spent the last three years with the Pacers. But the Pacers turned the pages on their careers when they traded Collison and Jones to the Dallas Mavericks for Ian Mahinmi this past summer.
Despite the trade, Collison knows what it meant to him to have been a part of the Pacers' organization.
"This is really where I grew as a player and It all started here,'' said Collison, who was the Pacers' starting point guard. "We had a real successful season (in 2011-'12).''
Last year the Pacers were so hot that they led Miami, 2-1, in a second-round best-of-seven series. But Indiana lost the next three games, including Games 4 and 6 at home.
"We had a good run going, we had a great cohesive unit, guys really played for each other and enjoyed playing with each other,'' Jones said. "And we could have pulled something special off, but we were a young group and just needed that experience.''
Still, despite losing to the eventual NBA champion Heat in six games, Collison and Jones helped bring basketball back to Indianapolis in a very big way. That made the trade to Dallas even more difficult for them to swallow.
"There's a lot of reasons behind the trade,'' Collison said. "I'm not concerned because now I'm playing on a team where I'm having a lof of success for myself and for my teammates.
"At the end of the day I think Dallas has done a great job of embracing me the right way.''
Forward Troy Murphy also is a former Pacers, having played for Indiana from 2006-'10. Murphy said: "I love it there. It's great.''
Collison said he didn't know what type of reception he's going to receive when his name is announced during the starting lineup.
"I'm so locked in for the game that whatever reception they give me I'll be ready to play,'' Collison said. "It was extremely fun playing for this team.
"Just the city in general, because they care about basketball.''
Memories aside, what Collison really cares about now is getting out of town with a victory. He doesn't even care if he has a good game or not.
"As long as we get the win I don't care what I get,'' Collison said. "I just want the win.
"People get so caught up because you're playing your former team, you've got to go out there and do well. You're going to get your numbers, you're going to get this and that, but I think the most important thing is to try and get a win.''
Jones noted that he's too old for goose bumps, although he admits to reminiscing about the good old days in Indy.
"We had a great experience, we grew as a team, and we made something special happen,'' Jones said. "It's going to be a special situation (tonight), but we have to just stay focused and try to get a win.
"I'll be excited to get back in the building and see some folks. But it's business as usual when you get on the court.''
-- Dwain Price
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