Anthony Morrow caught fire and nearly ruined a second half that looked like it was en route to blow-out city. Morrow hit 3 threes on his way to 15 fourth-quarter points, but it’s hard to really kill the Pacers too much for that. Dude got hot. It happens. Fortunately, they stayed poised at a time that would have likely been a choke job in year’s past. D-Will, who scored 34 points on 20 shots, also notably got the refs on his side after getting a tech. And on a night during which Johan Petro made 3 jump shots, Indiana missed 10 free-throws.
No one is going to bake any cookies for a rested 13-and-6 team that beat the New Jersey Nets at home. Not saying this is anything to get excited about. For this team, if they are actually as good as a lot of people think they might be, this game was simply a day at the office. Beat a terrible team and fly to Minnesota. But individually, most everyone played well and the team built enough of a cushion that even the combination of some in-game oddities (Petro making anything), a rash of 50/50 calls going toward New Jersey (after Deron complained his way into a technical), a superstar playing like one (D-Will beasting) and a hot hand (Morrow) still weren’t enough to do anything but give Frank Vogel some heartburn.
They let New Jersey back in it, and that’s no good. But they clamped down on defense when the game was on the line — the Nets only scored 2 points in the final 2:28 — and finally got just enough points to leave the building without hating themselves. With all the Super Bowl distractions, I’m not sure we could expect these guys to be well-oiled in a game that was tough to get up for. But they won even when they couldn’t score in the fourth (they went 5 minutes in the middle of the quarter without putting a point on the board) or make many free-throws. Ugly? Yup. A win? Yup.
On to the next one.
|David West - 34 MIN | 3-4 FG | 5 REB | 4 AST | 5 TO | 6 PTS |
Statistically weak night for West, as he had as many TOs as he did rebounds to go with 6 pts against a front-line of ex-Mr. Kardashian and the Williamses Sheldon & Shawne.
|Danny Granger - 41 MIN | 6-15 FG | 9-9 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 21 PTS |
The FG% may upset those who didn’t watch but 1 miss was at the end of a shot clock, 1 was a long pull-up to end a quarter and 1 was a missed layup in traffic that he recovered to earn FTs. Also dove out of bounds to get his team another key possession late. Another excellent outing.
|Roy Hibbert - 32 MIN | 7-12 FG | 14 REB | 5 TO | 18 PTS |
Roy is probably going to be an All-Star. His mid-lane post-ups were torture for NJ and his work protecting the rim was stand-out. Got flushed on by DWill but swatted a Humpries dunk and two Deron layups.
|Darren Collison - 23 MIN | 2-7 FG | 4-5 FT | 3 AST | 8 PTS |
Screw the numbers, this guy controlled the offense. He is really getting a feel for how to run a team and it was on full display all night, initiating sets that led to movement and points.
|Paul George - 33 MIN | 8-11 FG (4-6 3PT) | 4 REB | 24 PTS |
Best offensive game of his career? The best highlight dunk in Pacers history? Either way, he couldn’t miss and his 3-point stroke was soaking wet. Stripped Deron late with clutch D also.
|Dahntay Jones - 12 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS |
This guy is slowly finding his role and has oddly morphed from a dude who was signed as a defensive specialist into a dude who can make things happen in the half-court off the bench. Will need that sans Hill.
|Louis Amundson - 9 MIN | 4-4 FG | 4 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS |
Didn’t miss on 4 FGAs, and he notably made a slick outlet to Danny right after George’s leak-out dunk, but Granger bobbled it off his leg. Would have repaid the favor, as Danny fed him for a layup on the break earlier.
|George Hill - 24 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2 REB | 3 AST | 2 PTS |
Who cares about this game now? We now know he has a “chip fracture” in his left ankle, whatever that means. Out indefinitely. Bad news for a team whose second unit was just re-discovering itself.
|Tyler Hansbrough - 21 MIN | 3-7 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 10 PTS |
10 points on 7 shots will do. He wasn’t as productive on the glass as you would like in 21 mins, but he put the ball in the hoop and got to the line. After a rough stretch not so long ago, that’s what you want to see.
|Lance Stephenson – SG 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2 REB | 5 AST | 2 PTS |
Two All-Star-level passes: the perfect over-the-top outlet to hit Paul George in stride for the dunk and a little no-look dump-off across the lane to Amundson. This kid has a ton of talent.