Post-Game Grades: The Pacer Players Play Well, and This Time, the Team Does, Too.

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Last night, I was writing about how the Pacer players had played well, but the Pacer team didn’t. Tonight, happily, I can write about both the Pacer players and the Pacer team playing well.

The scoreboard shows a 21-point margin of victory, and it really wasn’t that close. The Pacers won every quarter. Over the final three quarters, Milwaukee led for only 19 seconds, and the game was tied for only 44. Indiana led for the final 28 minutes of the game.

In fact, the only thing that kept the Bucks close was their three-point shooting. Hitting 8 of their first 13 home runs allowed them to stand only 6 points behind a Pacer team that was beating them in almost every possible way.

The Pacer front line had brutalized the undersized Bucks, starting with David West, then moving on to Roy Hibbert and finally Danny Granger coming down low to get some boards and pile up trips to the line. The Pacers dominated the glass (49-37). They took twice as many free-throw attempts. They shot over 50% from the floor.

Eventually, it broke Milwaukee.

The Pacers scored 35 points in a third quarter that saw them increase their 9-point halftime lead to 16 … a lead that wasn’t 19 only because Brandon Jennings hurled in a 50-footer at the buzzer.

But that was only a temporary blip. Indy’s bench – led by a crisp George Hill and his 24 points – put the game away with a 33-28 fourth. With great contributions from Dahntay Jones (13 points), Leandro Barbosa (9), and Lou Amundson (8 points, 7 rebounds), the Pacer reserves almost doubled up on Milwaukee’s, 67-38. They held a 53-22 advantage, before both coaches called off the dogs for garbage time.

It’s a big win for Indy, who left one on the table last night, and are in a dogfight with Atlanta for the #5 slot in the East.

The game is getting more physical, and the refs are being stingier with the whistle. That can only mean one thing: the playoffs are coming. Against Phoenix, it really bothered the Pacers, but against the Bucks, they mostly played through it. Need to keep that mindset going forward.

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, 21 MIN | 6-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 15 PTS
Remember in yesterday’s grades when I talked about wanting more from West in favorable matchups? Well…got it tonight. He punished Ersan Ilyasova, and even when he missed, he “moved the defense” to create opportunities for Indy.
Danny Granger, SF 25 MIN | 3-8 FG | 9-10 FT | 7 REB | 15 PTS
Was thinking last night that Danny was starting to perform exactly like you want a #2 guy to perform. The team still doesn’t have a #1, but last couple of games, Granger hasn’t been stretching, and you love numbers like 10 FTAs and 7 rebounds for him.
Roy Hibbert, C 25 MIN | 7-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 9 REB | 16 PTS
Played like the biggest player on the floor in a way you don’t normally see from him. West was the primary post option early, but Roy converted when it became his turn.
Darren Collison, PG 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3 REB | 2 AST | 8 PTS
Solid game from DC, and had that pull-up working in the 1st half. Wasn’t really needed in the 2nd as the bench and George Hill drove this one home
Paul George, SG 14 MIN | 2-5 FG | 5 REB | 2 AST | 4 PTS
Saddled with foul trouble, but played a decent floor game. Like DC, wasn’t needed after the 3rd quarter, hence the 14 minute appearance.

Dahntay Jones, 23 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 AST | 13 PTS
Hit 3 3-pointers, and I remember all of them. The 2 in the 1st half matched ones from Mike Dunleavy, and the 1 in the 2nd was a big momentum shot. Really, best performance you can hope for out of Dahntay.
Leandro Barbosa, 18 MIN | 2-3 FG | 5-5 FT | 3 REB | 9 PTS
Got to the line five times and scored 9 efficient points.
Louis Amundson, 23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 7 REB | 8 PTS
Active on the glass and not shy about scrounging buckets, I shudder to think where the Pacers would be had they not been able to outright steal Lou from Golden State – particularly given Jeff Foster’s retirement.
A.J. Price, G 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2 AST | 3 PTS
Hit a three in garbage time minutes.
George Hill, 28 MIN | 7-9 FG | 7-8 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 24 PTS
I knew he was playing well, but not 24-points well. Great shooting night for Hill, and great job leading the bench – who outscored Milwaukee’s 67-38.
Tyler Hansbrough, PF 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 2 REB | 6 PTS
Erratic game for Tyler, seemed much more indecisive tonight than in last night’s game. Wasn’t really a factor, but then he wasn’t really needed, either.
Jeff Pendergraph, F 6 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1 REB | 2 PTS
Got a few minutes, grabbed a board and hit a mid-range jumper.
Lance Stephenson, SG 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0 AST | 2 PTS
Hit a nice little pull up J, which is what you want to see, but mostly reverted to his garbage time playing style – which is…ummm…lacking in direction.

 

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