Post-Game Grades: Porous Pacers Defense Lets Denver Run and Drive Their Way to Victory

The Pacers came out of the gates playing about as good as they possibly can, opening up a 9-point lead on the way to a 35-point first quarter. Danny Granger was out his damn mind, sticking everything he took to score 18 in the opening period. AJ Price was dynamite off the bench as well. Then the wheels fell off. Or — better yet if we’re gonna use a stupid metaphor to explain it, which we are — Denver stole Indy’s Indy tires and started lapping people around the track.

The Nuggets floored the Pacers in the open court, flumoxing the limited transition defense they even attempted. With Ty Lawson and Corey Brewer pushing the action and those who were supposedly attempting to get back instead over-crashing the offensive glass, Denver ran off 16 fast-break points in the first half, according to ESPN, and was battering Indiana against the ropes. It felt like they were saved by the bell when the half-time buzzer sounded with the scored knotted at 60.

Just look at this second-quarter shot chart.

The Pacers started to slow down the Nugget break after the half but weren’t able to a capitalize. They missed 9 of the 11 jump-shots they attempted in the 3rd quarter and trailed by 3 heading into the final period despite Nene’s night ending with an injury. The second unit really hurt their chances as that deficit soon ballooned to 10.

As the starters made their way back in, Paul George got it going — finally — by drilling 3 threes over a 4-minute stretch, including back-to-back treys to bring Indiana within 4 points with 3 minutes to play. Collison got in on the comeback act with a great fastbreak finish plus the foul, but the defense let the team down. They just couldn’t finish plays even when they did execute. They forced Lawson into a tough, tough driving layup that he missed, but Roy Hibbert unnecessarily helped on the shot and nobody rotated down to box out Kosta Koufas, who tipped in the miss. After that, they played good-enough defense but Arron Afflalo drilled a three anyway. Thems the breaks and all, and it’s a good lesson that things often won’t work out if you drag your feet on playing well until it’s too late.

Credit goes to David West, who carried the offense throughout the fourth, for giving Indy one last hurrah by hitting a nice jumper and scoring at the rim on a shot during which he was fouled. But he blew the subsequent FT and then made a bonehead turnover when he kicked the ball out of the post to nobody and got whistled for a backcourt violation with his team down 2 and just 10 seconds left.

Ball game.

This was a fun one to watch, and much credit needs to go to Denver, which played excellent basketball and scored on possessions even when Indiana did play good defense. But just like that, everyone’s early-season darlings have dropped 3 straight and now have to play Miami next. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road and won’t mirror the same mid-season free fall that this franchise went into last season around the 20-game mark.

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 | 10-11 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 22 PTS
Tough performance to grade. Obviously, the line and the efficiency is splendid. But he missed a FT that would have put Indy down just 1 with 48 secs to play (albeit on an and-one try) and then made a horrid turnover the next possession.
Danny Granger - 35 MIN | 10-18 FG | 4-5 FT | 2 REB | 5 TO | 26 PTS
Was unconscious early, dropping 18 in the 1st quarter on 7-for-9 shooting. Sloppy with the ball though and got exploited by Brewer very badly.
Roy Hibbert - 35 MIN | 5-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS
Wasn’t really involved offensively. Certainly didn’t protect the rim as Lawson and Brewer had their way in the paint.
Darren Collison - 31 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 7 PTS
Had the offense straight humming early — and throughout really. But got destroyed by Lawson all game long.
Paul George - 34 MIN | 5-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 15 PTS
Looked like he was on the way to another no-show offensive game before burying 3 treys in the fourth and leading the Paces comeback. He also put the clamps on Lawson, who shot 1-for-5 in the 4th, after taking on the assignment.

Dahntay Jones - 13 MIN | 1-5 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS
Missed 4 of his 5 shots.
Louis Amundson - 12 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS
Didn’t do anything but pick up fouls and miss and alley oop dunk. But, oh, how did he miss it.
A.J. Price - 17 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-3 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 13 PTS
Best scoring night of the year as he dropped all 13 of his points in the first half. Looked as confident as I’ve seen him shooting-wise since last year.
Tyler Hansbrough - 18 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-3 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS
Nothing bad in particular but needs to produce more. Always. But especially without Hill.
Lance Stephenson - 14 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS
Sick steal/breakaway dunk and a highlight no-look pass to Dahntay in transition. Becoming quite the spark at times off the bench.

Topics: Denver Nuggets, Post-Game Grades

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  • Derek

    “C” is pretty generous for the big fella. Third game in a row he’s been a non-factor.

    David was AWESOME for 31 minutes. But, man, he gets a big ole “F” for that last minute. Turnover, missed FT killed a comeback he helped spark.

    4 games/5 nights, ugly as hell. Pacers really need this break.

  • longtimewatcher

    Offense seemed fairly good, but I don’t think David West had the only turnover. How many of them were there? 20? Ouch. An, oh, how did we do on the boards? 39 to 31?

    I thought the grades were pretty generous, given that we lost at home to a team missing two starters, including its top scorer.

  • JRC

    This has been a really tough stretch for the Pacers. Hopefully they can regain their defensive form soon. Anyone know how long until Hill might be back? The bench is kind of erratic without him.

  • http://PacersRule Jeff Wertz

    I have to agree the grades are too high overall. Hibbert seemed to be too passive. I think A.J. Price’s defense gets an F-. Also, I don’t see any reference to +/- in the grades. West’s turnover was awful. Paul George defers so much on offense, but I suppose if Granger is that on fire, he should defer to some extent. But then help your team by playing some amazing defense since Granger is so ineffective on that side of the ball.
    I thought coach should have gone with Dante Jones earlier in the game to play some hard nosed Defense. Lance Stephenson needs some minutes but he needs to give it up on the defensive side of the ball like he turns it on when he gets the rock.

  • NoLookPass

    Remember when we were pimping Hansbrough for 6th man of the year and a couple people on ESPN agreed? Last time I check teams who have good 6th men get them at least 10 shots a game. Two times this month already he’s been 9th on the team in attempts.

  • little B

    I hope Vogel can figure some things out. I felt like he had done a pretty good job up to this last week.I am not way blaming the loses on him, but I feel he contributed to them.
    1 At the begining of the year Vogel did a really good job of transitioning in the second string squad, almost like he never had the complete second string out there at once, always making sure there are scoreres on the floor. This game I felt like he did an aweful job. I know Hill is out but it seemed like he had the A squad in and then the B squad. And the B squad without Hill had no scorer (Price finally came through(But his D was counterproductive(same for Danny)), but Hansborough couldn’t even get the ball with Big Al on him). You could feel the game swing away after he sat all the starters and didn’t get them all back in until maybe 5 minutes left in the second. And then Danny got roasted on D the rest of the night. Why didn’t he leave Danny in longer wait til he started missing shots? The guy was on fire and Brewer didn’t get going until after Danny sat for about 30 minutes real time.
    2. Why did it take Vogel so long to switch someone else over on Lawson(he had? Jones or George should have been guarding him the whole game. 27 points really?
    3. Also why did like 4 non-factor players have the game of their lives against us this week? (Affalo, Brewer, Speights, and who can forget ZaZa) Nene hitting those fade aways was absurd too? Really?

    Sorry for the rambling. Didn’t mean to write my own blog on your page Wade. Just alot of questions after that loss. It may sound like I am worried which I am not, but I will be pusing the panic button if they don’t rip off like 6 or 7 wins in the next 8 games. The Pacers have a cake walk schedule coming up after Miami, even though they do have their first 3 straight nights with games coming up.

  • dwain

    one coaching problem i saw with this game was how many time outs we had left at the end of the half(never used em), if lead legs are a problem then by all means use the time outs to rest the guys. a well placed time out can really increase the amount of rest time for a player.