Post-Game Grades: Pacers Look Lackluster, Lazy, Lethargic Losing to Atlanta

This game was over before it started. Both teams looked groggy at the outset, but Atlanta jumped out to an 8-1 lead. It would really never be that close again even if the Pacers did cut it to 6 (or perhaps 4? I’m not going to even look it up since it was largely irrelevant) at some point late. The game was a joke by halftime as the running Hawks outpaced the Pacers to the tune of a 21-5 fastbreak scoring edge. Overall, it was 59-41 ATL at the break.

As they’re wont to do, the Pacers did start the 3rd playing well and nobly start to charge back. Danny Granger played well, getting to the line and creating some open looks for his teammates on the drive-and-kick. Him and Roy Hibbert ran one very nice pick-and-roll that I recall, Paul George missed an open three he set up early in the quarter, and he closed the period by getting AJ Price an open three that he, to the surprise of most, sank.

The Pacers cut 10 off the Hawks lead and were looking like they might make a game of it. Then they didn’t.

Indy would make a few decent plays but Atlanta was always right there to match. Neither squad played particularly well in the final 12 minutes, but the Josh Smith-led roster was able to smack away any mini-run that the Darren Collison-run offense was able to put together. Tracy McGrady made some plays and the Pacers had no answer. The year is 2012. There’s your game summary in a nutshell.

But don’t get caught up in the “Oooh … they almost had a shot to win it” stuff. It was a pretty sad effort, and Atlanta was doing whatever it wanted for the entire first 24 minutes. Most of the games Indiana has lost this year (and, really, for the past four) have been because they played well enough on the defensive end but just couldn’t put the ball in the basket. Tonight, the offense was by no means good, but with a few more made hoops (looking at those four misses yall had on two possessions late, Roy and David) the offense would have looked just as fine statistically as it did qualitatively on many possessions all night.

No, tonight it was a lethargic, half-hearted, lazy defensive effort that gave them no chance to win. But let’s not dwell on cliches: it wasn’t just poor effort—the execution was garbage as well. Guys were using poor position, the rotations were nonexistant as Hawks stuck open threes that I could make with that much time, and the pick-and-roll strategy looked ad hoc.

Given how the Pacers were “defending,” the only thing that it really looked like happened was that the Hawks got bored and forgot the game wasn’t set it stone. This is understandable considering how statuesque both the team they were playing against and the fans that were rooting for them looked inside my TV set.

I don’t think many people expect this road warrior success (Indy was 10-5 on the road entering this game) in the early season to continue all year. But this — combined with the almost-as-bad loss to the Magic in Indiana on Saturday and even the near-collapse last night — is a legitimate cause for concern.

That bad.

Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at me (@8pts9secs) or Tim (@TimDonahue8p9s) on Twitter.

David West - 32 MIN | 7-13 FG | 6 REB | 2 BLK | 15 PTS
Excellent 1st half from the floor (shooting 5-for-6 with 11 pts), but lost his touch and got badly out-produced by Josh Smith, who murdered Indy with 28 pts, 12 rebs, 5 stls and 3 blks. Tyler probably should have played late.
Danny Granger - 39 MIN | 5-17 FG | 8-8 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 21 PTS
Started off missing everything while taking a few questionable shots but got it going eventually to help drag the Pacers back within striking distance. Created some offense and got to the line but it wasn’t enough.
Roy Hibbert - 36 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 13 REB | 0 AST | 10 PTS
Double-double that, matched up with Zaza, could have included more points. Nobody got him the ball though and, as usual, the fault lies with both the perimeter guys and Roy not demanding the ball in good position.
Darren Collison - 36 MIN | 4-7 FG | 1 REB | 9 AST | 3 TO | 9 PTS
Looked good to me on most individual plays, but the team played poor, lethargic, embarrassing D. With DC’s new-found ability to run this team, his lines matter little. Tonight, he needed to inject life into his team. He didn’t.
Paul George - 29 MIN | 1-8 FG | 3-5 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 5 PTS
Arguably his worst game of the year and it’s not even the terrible shooting. Just out of sorts most of the night and got roasted by Joe Johnson as ATL built an insurmountable lead.

Dahntay Jones - 15 MIN | 2-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 AST | 5 PTS
Pretty good. Don’t try to throw lobs to Lou Amundson though. Ever.
Louis Amundson - 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-2 FT | 0 REB | 2 PTS
Sure.
A.J. Price - 12 MIN | 2-4 FG | 1 AST | 5 PTS
Hit a three to close the third quarter and made a nifty layup not long after. For this alone, it was his best performance since the Charlotte game. On January 7.
Tyler Hansbrough - 18 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 15 PTS
The lone bright spot tonight. Looked like good Tyler from … I dunno … last year against the Bulls? Has been trending positive again and looked to have rediscovered his comfort-level trying to score tonight.
Lance Stephenson - 13 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS
This guy loves making nifty passes to Amundson. Had another one tonight on the break to get a bucket. Didn’t do anything wrong, per se, but with Hill out they need him to at least score a few pts.
George Hill - DNP FRACTURED LEFT ANKLE
Hurry back, would ya?
Zaza Pachulia - 2-6 FG | 5-8 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 9 PTS
That behind-the-back pass was from the Arvydas school of awesome. My favorite NBA player of all time whose first name is 50% Zs. Plays for the Hawks.

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