Post-Game Grades: Pacers Win a Wild One in Houston

In an NBA season, only so many games are going to be memorable. In a shortened season, you would think each might stand out more. But it’s been such a blur at times that it can be hard to remember who you played last let alone the particulars.

The Pacers won’t have any trouble remember tonights game, however. That much is for sure. And that is probably both a positive and a negative. See, Indiana got up early and it looked like they might have a convincing, wire-to-wire win on their hands. Not so easy though. The Rockets started to out-play the Pacers towards the middle of the second quarter and blew their doors off in the third.

Then Danny Granger started to heat up. On the night, Indy’s captain stuck 6 of his 8 three-point attempts and helped the Pacers get back to even as the fourth-quarter clocked got closer to zero. The Rockers weren’t about to just let the Pacers have this one though and a wild series of possessions led to the 5 extra minutes of basketball. Everyone was drilling tough, tough jumpers and it looked like Indy was going to make just one more play than Houston to win it.

Unfortunately, Darren Collison twice found himself at the line with a chance to virtually ice the game for his team. And both times he missed one of the shots. The Pacers still had one last chance to win it, but a fairly fruitless possession yielded nothing better that David West isolation. And he didn’t do anything useful, instead opting for a few fakes and a contested jumper that missed badly.

Indiana really looked like the better team in overtime, however. Despite a missed dunk by dunk-contest participate Paul George, they quickly extended a lead. George made up for it by preventing a layup on the other end with a chase-down block and then converted a three-point play back on offense as he scored at the rim plus the foul. Granger followed that with a three-pointer and the Pacers were up six. Some good defense and a few nice offensive boards by George later, and it looked like it was all over but the confetti.

The Dragic hit a three. And then George made a bonehead turnover in the back court, trying to throw a flailing pass up-court over Chandler Parsons, who took the ball and laid it in the hoop. A 6-point lead was now 1 with less than 40 seconds left. To make matters worse, George again turned the ball over again. It was at least in his own offensive end of the court this time but it was no less terrible of a pass. To his credit, he busted his ass over to try to grab the loose ball. He couldn’t pick it up but the chaos was enough to force the guy who did nab it, Courtney Lee, to come away stumbling into a turnover.

With only 15 seconds left, Houston was forced to foul. No sweat. Granger stepped to the line and knocked down two shots. Unfortunately, he then got roasted on the other end by Parsons, who scored at the hoop to extend the game. The Rockets fouled Collison. And it was the opposite of no sweat. He barely drew iron on the front of the rim on the first free-throw. He made the second at least.

The Rockets inbounded at half-court down 2 with 10 seconds left. They got it to Parson who attempted a long, tough 25-foot three-pointer. Granger blocked it. Game over.

Ultimately, there were a ton of mistakes that players can, and should, be chastised for. And it is highly troubling that the team’s starting back court both found ways to try to lose this one. (To Collison’s credit, he did hit several big shots late as well).

The win should have come much easier. But if it had, it wouldn’t be memorable.

Now, I don’t know if being memorable is necessarily going to help this team get any more wins in the rest of this condensed schedule, let alone the playoffs. But it should be something the team can look to when they discuss proper late-game execution and what can happen when that breaks down and sloppy mistakes seep their way onto the court. Now, the team has two outcomes to look at in such situations. Against Miami in their overtime loss, they should have won but made just enough plays to lose. Tonight, against Houston in their overtime win, they should have won and made just enough plays to win.

And you have to think that knowing the precise difference between those two things could be a more useful learning experience than simply winning the second game of a back-to-back in Texas by 7 points.

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 36 MIN | 5-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 4 AST | 12 PTS
Played well early as the Pacers built up a quick lead, but you would like to see more production late. He scored 10 of his 12 pts in the 1st half.
Danny Granger, 38 MIN | 11-20 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 32 PTS
Perhaps his best shooting game of the year. Late, he was as good as you could hope, drilling key 3-pointers and big jumpers in the 4th quarter and OT. 32 pts on 20 shots works every time.
Roy Hibbert, C 35 MIN | 6-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 9 REB | 5 BLK | 15 PTS
Missed too many shots, but hit the glass and protected the rim like a champ. That block on Scola from behind in transition was maybe the most badass play of his career.
Darren Collison, 36 MIN | 4-8 FG | 3-6 FT | 5 REB | 7 AST | 11 PTS
Good god. Ghosts of Nick Anderson were haunting the building as DC made three crunch-time trips to the line in regulation and OT. He went 1-for-2 all three times and nearly cost his team a win.
Paul George, 30 MIN | 3-7 FG | 7 REB | 3 AST | 3 TO | 9 PTS
George had a few bonehead TOs in OT, missed a dunk, let Dragic blow right by him on a big play. He redeemed himself with a nice block and a big three-point play, but turning the ball over in the back court like that is just inexcusable. Got

Dahntay Jones, SG 15 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 PTS
Nothing of note. Wasn’t particularly helpful.
Leandro Barbosa, SG 21 MIN | 4-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 AST | 10 PT
He was a cold dude. He’s getting back to his ways. Amazing how much speed can help you get easy looks on the break.
Louis Amundson, C 13 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS
Done did well.
George Hill, SG 19 MIN | 1-2 FG | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS
Didn’t shoot much, which was weird. His only two points came while he was posting up the 5’5″ Earl Boykins, a move he picked up at the Jerk Store.
Tyler Hansbrough, PF 21 MIN | 1-7 FG | 7-8 FT | 10 REB | 9 PTS
Yikes on the shooting but it didn’t seem that bad since all the ones I recall were fine looks. Made up for it by getting to the line, making his freebies and eating glas.

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