Post-Game Grades: Indy Smacks ATL in the Jaw

The Pacers just came out and played their best game of the year when this was just what they needed. Of course, any team would love to come smack the current media darling of the NBA in the mouth by a looks-closer-than-it-was final score of 96-84, but this should be a win that makes the league stand up and notice. They started off early winning ugly against bad teams. Then they got out-classed by a Dwyane-less Miami team. They impressively followed that up by beating the Celtics in Boston, but that game was historically ugly. A rebound win at Charlotte was nice — and anyone who saw Indy’s domination in that second half should have started to come around on this squad. But then they went out and got pushed around by Philly. Sure, no Granger and no George Hill for that one. And Tyler got knocked out late. But the final score is all most saw.

Now they come out and straight pimp slap a team that just beat Miami and Chicago in the same week. We know analysts will talk about Atlanta’s 8 games in 10 nights, but that’s the season they’re playing in. Everyone has that same challenge so it’s hardly worth discussing aside from in passing. No, this was a home team that had its ball movement rocking and shook off some transition and pick-and-roll defensive issues to break it open in the third quarter. Give Granger credit for his best game of the year (check the shot chart), but this was all about team’s making plays. Half of Danny’s points came on knock-down jumpers after swing passes or cuts to the hoop that were set up by Hibbert drawing the defense. They played like a unit with 25 assists on 39 made hoops. They didn’t need a bunch of threes or trips to the line. And in doing so, they actually looked like a team worthy of the “maybe a four seed?” questions we keep hearing.

Here is how the guys played individually.

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Indiana Pacers 96 – Philadelphia 76ers 84

David West  24 MIN | 5-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS
Stellar first half from West, who with 12 points on 8 shots finally got some of his looks in the paint to go. Even when he isn’t doing much on offense, everything just moves better.
Danny Granger  27 MIN | 9-16 FG | 3-3 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 24 PTS
Easily Danny’s best overall game of the year and it wasn’t just numbers. He looked comfortable trying to score while knocking down good looks, cutting to the hoop and passing when his driving lane was cut off.
Roy Hibbert  24 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS
Big fella looked big and imposing on D — most notably on an Alonzo-like block that sent Horford to the locker room with a bum shoulder and sparked probably Indy’s best play of the year on the other end.
Darren Collison  27 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 8 PTS
He was bad beyond a tough shooting night. The near-8-second call/heave pass to nobody was emblematic of many other bad decisions. Two rough outings for DC after several prior ones that showed a lot of growth.
Paul George  21 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1-1 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 5 PTS
Another game full of low-lights, when there were flickers at all, on the offensive end from George. Offensive fouls and some over-dribbling was the theme. He did rebound well though and was active on defense.

Jeff Foster  14 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 3 PTS
Jeff hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the 3rd quarter. Your argument that he isn’t the best shooter of all time is invalid.
Dahntay Jones  21 MIN | 2-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 5 PTS
Played 21 minutes.
Louis Amundson  5 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 3 PTS
Just hold the ball next time or shoot a jumper.
A.J. Price  5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS
Garbage time.
George Hill  24 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS
Was nice to see that he was able to play. Wasn’t so much nice to actually see him play. Nothing went wrong but was back to mundane mode after two aggressive, productive games vs. Boston and Charlotte.
Tyler Hansbrough  22 MIN | 4-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS
Solid look with the glasses but the practice gear was better. Tyler hit a few of his Tyler-looking buckets, but let’s try to get a rebound next time you’re on the court for nearly half the game.
Jeff Pendergraph  5 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS
Followed up a botched layup with what was probably the slowest, most-badly missed, wide-open dunk in traffic of all time. There were several defenders right next to him but they seemed indifferent. Still worked.
Lance Stephenson  18 MIN | 5-7 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 12 PTS
Guess this is why he is still ahead of AJ Price in the rotation. Career-high points in the best game I’ve seen him play. Half his problem is that he looks awkward and uncomfortable on an NBA court. Not tonight.

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