David West spent most of the first eight seasons of his career as an offensive focal point for New Orleans.

The power forward passed up the opportunity to sign with the Boston Celtics and their three future Hall of Famers to join the up-and-coming Indiana Pacers in the offseason.

On some nights, West is the first option. Other nights, he's the fifth.

That's fine with the 31-year-old West. He left his ego at his offseason home in North Carolina because he wanted to fit in and provide leadership on a team that has been deficient in that area for years.

West has done both while becoming the backbone of a Pacers team enjoying its best season since 2003-04.

The Pacers, winners of seven straight games, host the Philadelphia 76ers tonight at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

"What's been so pleasant about having David here is that team-first mentality," coach Frank Vogel said. "The selflessness, the desire to fit in and contribute to the whole.

"You never really know what to expect when you have a guy who is as accomplished as he is coming into a new environment. It's been a breath of fresh air all year."

West, who signed a two-year contract with the Pacers, entered the season averaging 16.4 points. He had appeared in two All-Star Games while playing the majority of that time next to fellow All-Star Chris Paul with the Hornets.

West is third on the Pacers in scoring at 12.3 points, which is his lowest average since his second year in the league.