Larry Bird has continually said that he liked the roster he was able to build through the draft and by trading for Darren Collison. But he was afraid that the team would prove unable to reach the potential its young guys might have without some veterans added to the mix. Cheap, young talent is great, but inexperience will usually hit a wall before long.
That phenomenon was on full display tonight as the Pacers two new playoff-tested vets carried the team to victory in a game the team really had no business winning. Danny Granger foolishly got ejected in the first half and was playing terrible anyway. Roy Hibbert, who has been steady all year, was coughing up the ball all first half and picking up fouls. (He finished with 6 of each.)
But George Hill carried the team, coming off the bench in the 1st quarter for 9 quick points, and putting on another scoring display in the 3rd. David West did his work more quietly, but was again the go-to guy when Indiana needed some points most. With 32 seconds left and the score knotted at 90, the Pacers inbounded and ran a pick-and-roll with West and Darren Collison. The Raptors were victimized by this exact play earlier this year when the Pacers beat them three days after Christmas.
DC found West in the mid-range on a pick-and-pop but Toronto didn’t let him get a clean look this time. Instead, he drew a foul and headed to the charity stripe, where made the first and missed the second. No matter. Paul George got a hand on the ball and Tyler Hansbrough gobbled it up, getting fouled and going to the line himself. He knocked both down. A hilarious Jamaal Magloire airball free-throw later, the Pacers were leaving Toronto with an improbably victory in which only two bench players (Hill and Hansbrough) had particularly good nights.
Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows best summed up the win-that-coulda-been-a-loss: “We’ve seen good teams do this to Pacers a lot over past few years. Nice change.” Exactly. The Pacers never won games like this last year or in any of the past few. But George Hill didn’t feel like losing tonight. So he didn’t. Wonder where he learned how to do that? (Hint: It rhymes with Bopovich and Buncan.)
Here is how the guys played individually.
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|David West - 31 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 13 PTS |
Drew the go-ahead FT on the biggest possession of the game with Indy tied 90-90. The DC/West PnR has officially become the go-to play in crunch time. Now, if they can just run it in the first 47 minutes…
|Danny Granger - 18 MIN | 1-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 PTS |
One of the worst games of his career. Bad shots, arguing questionable no-calls, got tossed. Him getting tossed might have been the best thing for Indy. Hill might not get 11 FGA, or 31 minutes, otherwise.
|Roy Hibbert - 31 MIN | 6-10 FG | 9 REB | 6 TO | 6 PF | 15 PTS |
The stats look better than he played. Fouling out with 6 TOs isn’t a good look, particularly when the last foul gives Toronto a potential 3-point play with 1 min to play. A lot of mistakes vs. a team he should dominate.
|Darren Collison - 38 MIN | 2-9 FG | 5-6 FT | 5 REB | 5 AST | 9 PTS |
Another really rough shooting night on a game where he never got in a rhythm. He wasn’t bad but he wasn’t particularly good. Did a good job staying out of Hill’s way.
|Paul George - 32 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS |
With Granger out, you would think he would get more than 5 FGAs. But he played some stellar on-ball defense, especially on a few key, momentum-maintaining possessions during the comeback.
|Dahntay Jones - 18 MIN | 0-1 FG | 3-4 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS |
I never know what to write about Dahntay. He dribbles too much and ball-stops, but it wasn’t that disruptive. Was himself.
|Louis Amundson - 11 MIN | 1-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS |
Finished at the hoop in a nice pick-and-roll with Hill. Looked clueless on defense defending a pick-and-roll with Stephenson. Did little else, so … push.
|George Hill - 31 MIN | 7-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 22 PTS |
Everything to say is written above. He was remarkable and this is now the third game Hill has been Indy’s best player (along with Boston, Charlotte).
|Tyler Hansbrough - 23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 7-7 FT | 6 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS |
Excellent game in which he made some nifty moves (baseline reverse layup) and got the two biggest boards of the game (after West and Magloire’s missed FTs). He even passed out of the post a few times.
|Lance Stephenson - 8 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS |