Post-Game Grades: Pacers Bench Sixers

Doubt had begun to creep into the community around the Indiana Pacers. Though they had broken a 4-game overall losing streak on Tuesday night against Portland, the boys in Blue-and-Gold were still working a more troubling streak. Indy had lost eight in a row against teams with a winning record.

After Wednesday’s 111-94 victory over the (now) 25-18 Philadelphia 76ers ended that unfortunate streak, and did so in impressive fashion. Starting with a 76-75 lead late in the third, Indy outscored the Sixers 31-13 over the next 11 minutes of game time to seal the victory.

Leading the way were George Hill and the bench. Hill scored 17 points – 13 in the second half – as the Pacer reserves delivered 47 points on the night. That more than doubled the highly regarded Sixers bench output of 21.

While Hill provided the second half fireworks with some big threes, Tyler Hansbrough put in the first half work. Buckaroo scored 10 points during a crucial stretch at the end of the first, beginning of the second quarters to help the Pacers close with a hot-shooting Philly squad.

This was as close to a complete team victory as the Pacers are likely to ever see. Besides the outstanding bench play, Indy’s starting frontline was dominant – scoring 52 points on 61% shooting.

David West combined with Hansbrough during the first half for 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the power forward slot. Frank Vogel and the Pacers used Roy Hibbert beautifully, getting him the ball in fantastic post position, where he seemingly scored or drew a foul each time. Danny Granger provided a game-high 20 points in the type of all around performance that make Pacer fans’ mouths water.

This was both Indy’s best offensive performance of the season, and Philly’s worst. The 135.1 offensive efficiency and .612 eFG% for the Pacers was no mean feat against a Sixer team that leads the league in both categories (97.4 & .449, respectively) defensively.

As things stand now, this would be the 4-5 matchup in the East, and oh, what a matchup it is shaping up to be. Two teams that are built on the strength of the unit – not the star – but do it in contrasting manners. Philly is quick and athletic, and though they are a very slow-paced team, they are very active. The theme is constant movement at both ends. In Philly’s win – and early last night – they made this Pacer team look a step slow.

The Pacers have more size and are considerably more formidable inside. It was the difference on Wednesday, as the Pacers 4/5 position (Hibbert, West, Hansbrough, Amundson) outscored their 76er counterparts (Hawes, Brand, Vucevic, Young) 52-34, outrebounded them 18-13, and outshot them .667 to .457.

These two squads play two more times in mid-April (17th & 21st), and maybe a few more times in later April. Should be fun.

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 29 MIN | 8-12 FG | 3 REB | 4 AST | 18 PTS | +12

I’d seen these efficient-scoring, smartly-played games from players in other uniforms. I cannot tell you how nice it is to see it from someone in the Blue-and-Gold.

Danny Granger, SF 33 MIN | 8-13 FG | 3-3 FT | 7 REB | 20 PTS | +9

A complete, efficient game for Danny – at both ends. Dare I say, a David-West-ian game where he looked more like a guy trying to be the foundation for a good team than a guy trying to be the star. This could be a very, very good thing.

Roy Hibbert, C 31 MIN | 3-6 FG | 8-10 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 14 PTS | +9

It seems unlikely that there is anyone covering the Pacers who is more consistently critical of Roy Hibbert, but I loved his game last night – both the way he was used and the way he played. According to mySynergySports, in 8 post finishes last night, Hibbert made 3-of-3 baskets, drew 4 fouls while committing only one turnover.

Darren Collison, PG 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 AST | 4 PTS | 0

Darren and his backcourt mate Paul George were largely non-factors last night, as the Pacer frontcourt and bench were the focus.

Paul George, SG 19 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2 REB | 0 AST | 8 PTS | +3

As noted above, the starting backcourt for the Pacers didn’t have much impact, but with so many other players delivering quality games, they weren’t needed.

Dahntay Jones, SG 15 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 AST | 7 PTS | +8

Like Lou and A.J. below, it’s hard to single out many individual moments for Dahntay, but he was part of a bench unit that faced down the best reserves in the league – and outscored them 47-21. A’s all around.

Louis Amundson, C 11 MIN | 3-3 FG | 3 REB | 6 PTS | +3

Sure, this line looks bad when compared to his 21 & 8 from Wednesday night, but it was clearly an effort to keep his teammates from being intimidated by his innate greatness.

A.J. Price, G 27 MIN | 1-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 AST | 3 PTS | +17

Solidifying his spot in the rotation simply by playing his game. Basic point guard skills take a lot of pressure off of George Hill, allowing Hill to focus on scoring.

George Hill, SG 29 MIN | 7-10 FG | 7 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +14

He, along with Tyler, each earn an A+ as the leaders and offensive firepower for the bench unit that really won the game. Hill scored 6 points and dished two assists during the decisive 12-0 fourth quarter run.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 25 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 14 PTS | +10

While Hill applied the knockout punch with 13 second-half points, Tyler Hansbrough’s 10-point first half kept the Pacers off the ropes and toe-to-toe with a strong Philly team.

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