Jack hopes struggles over

A week ago Jarrett Jack was struggling to not only live up to his new contract but the obligation...

A week ago Jarrett Jack was struggling to not only live up to his new contract but the obligation he felt he owed his new teammates. (Sun Media/Jack Boland)

MIKE GANTER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:26 AM ET

Had the Indiana Pacers visited even a week ago, they would not have found the happy-go-lucky Jarrett Jack that greeted them Monday.

Jack, as is his habit, was still in the gym long after practice ended Monday hoisting up shots when the Pacers, Tuesday’s opponents and his team of last season, walked into the gym to get their own work in.

Jack had a kind word for everyone as they entered and only after he had completed his own work did he go person to person for individual greetings, Head coach Jim O’Brien, his assistants, trainers, equipment managers and every player got a hug, handshake or fist bump. No one was left out.

Had this reunion occurred a week earlier, Jack still likely would have greeted them as warmly, but the smile on his face that seems plastered there permanently these days might not have been.

A week ago Jack was struggling to not only live up to the new contract he signed but the obligation he felt he owed his new teammates.

At that time the ball wasn’t dropping for him and Jack was pressing which only hampered the other parts of his game.

A 17-point game Friday night that included a pair of clutch three’s in the dying minutes of a win over Miami started to turn the tide for Jack and with his confidence restored Jack was back on his game Sunday handing out a career-high 11 assists.

“It wasn’t so much about letting myself down as letting everyone else down,” Jack said of his early struggles. “I think that was some of the added pressure in the beginning. Also I wanted to perform so I could prove to everyone that it shouldn’t have taken this long.

"I should have got this contract a long time ago. So it was a little pressure from both ways that kind of hurt my play a little bit but I’m putting it all behind me. Now I’m just playing and having fun.”

The pressure appears to have been relieved with a talk Friday morning with head coach Jay Triano who simply reassured Jack that he was going to have the chance to play out of whatever funk he was in.

“I think he was dwelling as a lot of guys do,” Triano said. “It doesn’t matter what level you’re playing at. Some guys dwell on the fact that they are not making shots or not making plays. What we said to him was do all the little things. Play good defence, work hard, do all the hustle things and your shot is eventually going to come. I think his energy level has been very good and he’s found some confidence in the other parts of this game that has translated to his shot.”

Jack admitted the talk put him at ease and helped him see what he had to do.

“I think just putting everything behind me and stop worrying about things I can’t control,” Jack said of the solution to his slow start. “The only things I can control is to go out there and play hard for however long I’m out there and just do whatever I can to help my team win and that’s been my focus the past two games.”

Jack was genuinely thrilled to see his old Pacers teammates and reiterated Monday he would still be playing with them had they been able to match the four-year $20-millioin offer that Bryan Colangelo threw his way to bring him to Toronto.

“I really wanted to go back to Indiana,” Jack said. “I’m a loyal person and they gave me the opportunity to show my talent and put myself in a position to get this contract. I felt I owed it to them to come back and we could work it all out.”

When the Pacers couldn’t match, Jack wound up a Raptor and while it took a while, he’s smiling and producing just as he did last year with Indiana.


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