Post-Game Grades: Pacers Rout Blazers and Happiness Returns to Indiana

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After the loss to Orlando the other night, it’s nice to have a relative analysis-free piece to write about a Pacers game that was a butt-kicking in the other direction. Don’t be fooled by the final score — this was a 25-point rout. They were up 23 at the end of the third quarter and it would have gotten uglier if coach Frank Vogel didn’t call off the dogs somewhat. So there’s not a ton to say about a game that was this out of hand.

On defense, Indiana was stingy. Then again, it didn’t really look like the Blazers showed up either. Regardless, they only made 9 shots from the field in the first half, missing 21 of their 30 attempts for a hilarious conversion rate of just 30.0%. Somehow (we’ll get to that), it remained only a 10-point game at the break, but this was really only due to the fact that (1) they went to the 24 times and hit 19 of them (79.2%), and (2) they went on a little silly run to close the 2nd quarter.

This Indiana team hasn’t inspired a ton of confidence of late, however, so those numbers certainly left this watcher with a trace of nervousness that some epic collapse could be looming. But barely. The teams, at least on this night, were executing on completely different levels, with one looking like a squad that was trying to prove itself and the other looking like a “team” that knew it was about to be liquidated for parts at the trade deadline.

The result was the Pacers coming out in the second half and blowing the doors off the Trailblazers. Give Portland coach Nate McMillan some credit: even though the 2-3 zone defense he called for at times in the first half had gotten shredded routinely (on at least two occasions by masterful cuts into the lane by George Hill, who played great in his first game back from a shoulder injury), he got his guys to play with effort in a trap gimmick defense in the third quarter. It wasn’t effective by any means mind you (the Pacers out-scored them 27-14 in the period), but the guys were generally racing around out there — even if it was pretty evident they had no chance at flustering Indiana into turnovers and speeding up the game in a way that would benefit them. There’s something to be said for that, I guess. It didn’t ultimately matter as the Pacers just picked apart the trapping defenders, often passing off the open guy without even dribbling. There were more hockey assists than the 1987 Edmonton Oilers and everyone got in on the fun.

I’m not sure how much you can take away from a home team that badly needed a win smacking around an away team that badly needs some direction. But they team looked at its best and it brought back memories of the February days when these Pacers would go into good teams’ gyms, pass the ball to whoever was open and end up winning by 8 with a box score that had individual point totals of 19, 16, 14, 14, 11, 8 and 8.

Now let’s see if they can do that on a back-to-back against the league’s best defense when Doug Collins brings his Sixers to town tomorrow night.

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, PF 27 MIN | 5-10 FG | 10 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS
Was wondering what happened to this guy. Used to see him all the time in those Hornets uniforms.
Danny Granger, SF 18 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 11 PTS
Didn’t play much due to foul trouble but got his jumper going again, which hasn’t always been the case from deep of late.
Roy Hibbert, C 25 MIN | 4-9 FG | 6 REB | 3 AST | 8 PTS
Can’t complain, but still looking for a post-All-Star breakout game from the big fella. Still, with all the trapping and zone Portland was playing, he was being more of a facilitator in the ball movement than a finisher.
Darren Collison, PG 25 MIN | 3-10 FG | 1 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS
Played wy better than the missed shots might suggest to those scanning the box score. Was aggressive when needed and handled the trap well, even if it meant he was mainly giving up the ball early.
Paul George, SG 21 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 11 PTS
Still can’t get over how good he is at getting deflections. And given the fact that the knocks away so many balls that the passer seems to think will go through untouched, I’m not the only one.

Dahntay Jones, SG 28 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1 REB | 4 AST | 4 PTS
Good stuff.
Louis Amundson, 23 MIN | 10-11 FG | 8 REB | 1 BLK | 21 PTS
Amundsanity was in full effect as the big fella couldn’t miss. With only 1 missed field goal, he dropped a career-high 21 points and generally just embarrassed the Blazers up and down the court.
A.J. Price, G 23 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 0 PTS
This guy is running a nice offense again. The second unit lost nothing when he was out there. Him and George Hill went together likes peas and carrots out there at times.
George Hill, SG 24 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS
Beast. Probably the game MVP, even with Lou going nuts, since it was he who came in when the starting wings got in foul trouble and made the team even better. There was a time when it looked like he and West were playing 2-on-5. And winning.
Tyler Hansbrough, PF 15 MIN | 2-6 FG | 4-5 FT | 7 REB | 8 PTS
This is the type of numbers they need from him off the bench all the time. Better still, he got them in just 15 minutes on a night he wasn’t even hitting much. You can usually tell how well he played just by looking at FTAs.
Jeff Pendergraph, F 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS
2 boards and didn’t miss a shot.
Lance Stephenson, SG 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS
Guess he played. Wasn’t really paying attention anymore.
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Tags: Nate McMillan Portland Trailblazers Post-Game Grades

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