Both before and after the Celtics game, Pacer head coach Frank Vogel talked about importance his team’s depth and its need to play faster to exploit that. Last night’s game wasn’t fast (pace of 91.4), but speed is relative. The Celtics entered the game as the second slowest team in the league, and that – along with their age – showed as the Pacers went at them in waves.
Indiana continued it’s somewhat disturbing habit of starting slowly, trailing for most of the first, before finishing the quarter with a 10-0 spurt to take a 29-24 lead. From there, the Pacers just wore down Boston by getting out and running (23 fastbreak points) and pounding them in the halfcourt (42 points in the paint, .400 ORB%).
The Pacer bench was outscored by Boston’s 25-23, but that’s deceptive. Garbage time fourth quarter minutes produced a 12-5 advantage for the Cs, even at that, the Celtics could climb any closer than the final margin of 14. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett scored 21 points each, but also combined for nine turnovers.
Individually, every core Pacer player either matched, or outplayed their Boston counterpart. Collectively, the Pacers were — and I think will continue to be — just plain better than the Celtics.
|David West – 21 MIN | 4-8 FG | 8 REB | 2 BLK | 8 PTS |
Big factor in the 3rd-quarter stretch when Indy took control. His 8 & 8 line is unimpressive, but West’s contributions last night (and this year) aren’t adequately measured by his individual numbers. His 3 ORBs, 2 asts, 4 pts in the pivotal 3rd all were back-breakers for Boston.
|Danny Granger – 37 MIN | 8-19 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 3 STL | 21 PTS |
Strong bounce back from his miscue in Toronto. Danny had 12 points in the 1st half on 5-of-9 shooting and +17 on the night. His shooting left him in the second half, leaving him 1-for-6 from three. He told me after the game that his legs aren’t quite where he likes them to be.
|Roy Hibbert – 27 MIN | 5-15 FG | 1-2 FT| 9 REB | 3 BLK | 11 PTS |
Just wasn’t a huge factor. He struggled shooting, appearing to rush his hooks against JO, missing 4 of the 5 I recall. Brought back bad memories of a year ago, when his shooting had devolved to simply flinging the ball in the general vicinity of the basket.
|Darren Collison – 32 MIN | 6-11 FG | 4 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS |
DC contribution last night was 11 points in a third quarter that saw the Pacers push their eight-point halftime lead out
|Paul George – 26 MIN | 6-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 8 REB | 2 STL | 17 PTS |
For the first 6 mins, George was the best player in the building. He scored 9 pts. Bett still, he earned 4 FTs. He slowed down after that, but it was more due to this bing a game where he and his ‘mates took turns beating up the Cs.
|Jeff Foster – 17 MIN | 1-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 4 REB | 3 STL | 3 PTS |
Jeff managed 4 caroms and 3 steals in 17 minutes, but his signature play of the night made a great cut to get an even better feed from Paul George – then missed a 2-foot shot by 3-feet.
|Dahntay Jones – 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1 REB | 1 BLK | 2 PTS |
Non-descript evening for Dahntay.
|Louis Amundson – 3 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS |
2 rebounds in 2 minutes is good. 4 shots for a guy with Amundson’s offensive repertoire is a bit excessive. Still, he’s active and aggressive. He and Pendergraph could potentially be a poor man’s Foster-Hansbrough combo – at least in terms of agitating the opponent.
|A.J. Price – 3 MIN |1 TO | 0 AST | 0 PTS |
To be honest, I don’t think I even realized A.J. had checked in last night.
|George Hill – 25 MIN | 2-5 FG | 3 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 4 PTS |
Most noticeable play came with 6 mins left, when George ran past three Celtics – covering close to 30 feet – to grab an offensive rebound. All this while the Pacers held a comfortable 16-point lead. Would be best player coming off Boston’s bench by a very wide margin.
|Tyler Hansbrough – 23 MIN | 1-8 FG | 4-4 FT | 6 REB | 2 BLK | 6 PTS |
Shooting night was a train wreck, but his energy and physicality was a big part of that depth that overwhelmed an aging Celtics team. Also probably would be the best player coming off Boston’s bench by a healthy margin.
|Jeff Pendergraph – 3 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS |
Scored his first bucket as a Pacer, was generally physical and aggressive, which is pretty much all you can ask of a guy in 2-1/2 garbage time minutes. Still feeling his way, but nice step forward from his debut against the Hawks.
|Lance Stephenson – 12 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1 REB | 2 AST | 2 PTS |
Strong move to the basket early showed a flash of the NBA-level scoring ability that is probably his strongest attribute right now, but otherwise quiet evening.