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.

Topics: Houston Rockets, Post-Game Grades

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  • Realist

    “Trade Granger” © Haters Inc. 2010-2012

  • Realist

    Collison was as wobbly as all hell. Just about crapped myself every time he stepped to the FT line.

    Since we (Vogel etc.) seem set on keeping DC in the starters, maybe we could look at a rotation that has DC start the game and George Hill finish? If Danny can’t get the ball to play the free throw game, I think I’d rather have George Hill shoot the icers than anyone else. I don’t care what the stats say.

    Also, looks like we might host/visit Boston (rather than Philly) first round if Boston can navigate their way half decently through the brutal part of their upcoming schedule (eg Miami). Thoughts?

  • NoLookPass

    Danny was the man tonight, but nights like tonight when he looks like the All-Star version make all those bad games even more confusing. Good to see Barbosa have a good game again, didn’t shoot great but when you add in so many fast break layups and actually make them it helps the stat line. He was passing way more and not all about looking for his shot tonight, so lets hope to see more games like this from him.

    Nice to see Tyler rebound for a change even if it took some friendly bounces for it to happen. Here hoping he’s got that masked FT shooting ironed out after making his final 7 tonight after missing the first, If he came with that poor post broken face percentage tonight we would have lost. His negative was he’s falling back in love with the long, long jumper that’s a few feet out of his range after making a few the last few weeks. I don’t mind him taking a few on the PnR but not that deep, but I prefer him to get in the paint more with his ability to draw massive amounts of fouls.

    Speaking of fouls, Pounding in at them and getting to the line won this game for us as we won the FT battle with +19 in makes on 18 more attempts in a 2 point game. I still worry about the Hill/Barbosa combo stepping on each others toes and our defensive rebound game plan which gives up far too many offensive rebounds we did buckle down nice in OT) and I’m still not 100% what our offensive game plan is. But with that said this felt like one of the first games people actually had roles and did what they are good at even if not everyone’s shots went in.

  • dwain

    Go Pacers!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Frank

    DC is super unclutch…if we are up 2 and he’s shooting free throws he can’t help but miss one…I bet if we were up 3 he woulda shot 2 airballs. I can’t remember seeing a player so consistently VISIBLY shaking in his boots when shooting free throws at the end of games. Dude is terrified at the end. Vogel shouldn’t put him in the game in those situations. NBA’s StatsCube said that Collison is an 83% free throw shooter, but he’s only 78% in the clutch. 5% is a huge dip. And it’s even worse when you consider that the 83% figure is being dragged down by the 78% clutch number. He’s probably north of 85% and maybe approaching 90% at the line during the rest of the game. Smh. Durn shame.

  • Reggie31

    Man i just wish we would have Rondo…none of that weak ass fear from him late in the game. He would just make Indiana click contender style…watching him destroy Miami made me drewl :p

  • Mike

    Realist… Thank you. I was thinking the same thing about all the people saying we need to trade Granger. Maybe this will shut their mouths for the next week or so. His line the last 5 games which includes the NJ disaster: FG: .480 3PFG:.520 FT: .909 21ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.8 apg, 1 bpg.

    And why is DC still shooting these late game FTs? Seems like every time we see him miss one or two down the stretch. Danny shoots a better %. So I don’t know where Vogel’s logic is. Hill (80%) wouldn’t be a bad option either. I mean Barbosa shoots 81%. Dahntay shoots 85%. Why is DC the go-to guy?

  • Joe B

    Granger taking an insane amount of threes is a problem. Tonight, he made most of them, but he has been cold from beyond the arc this season, and if any Pacers fan was not closing his eyes every time he shot it, then you are more confident than I am that Granger will save the day more times than not. He obviously has the ability, but I would prefer to see Granger going to the rim rather than hitting the rim from distance.

  • Realist

    I agree Granger looks better when’s attacking the rim as well. He’s great at getting to the line. The right balance has gotta be there somewhere.

  • Mike

    Joe -

    Danny is tied for 8th in the league right now in 3PA. Only one guy ahead of him has a better career % than him and that’s Ryan Anderson. And it’s not by much. And he hasn’t shot nearly as many. So take that for what it’s worth. Granger is a major threat from three. If he didn’t take them, teams wouldn’t guard him as tight and it wouldn’t open the floor up for the other guys.

    Kobe has taken more than DG and is hitting at a 29% clip. Would you say he’s a terrible three point shooter. Similar to DC and the late game FTs… It matters when you make them. And DG seems to make a majority of his when they really count. (I know it’s cliche, but it’s the same argument we’re having about DC.)

  • adam

    I think Collison deserves better than an F. he did have 7 assists and some clutch baskets.
    with missed freethrows I’d say C-

  • poot

    i don’t see why you all feel resigned to the fifth seed here…
    you realize third seed is up for grabs? (Orl is currently only 0.5 game ahead of Ind)

  • Realist

    Cause Miami will be tougher in the 2nd round than Chicago. And Derrick Rose seems to be dressing in a suit a lot.

  • richard

    i firmly belive we need to adress the point guard situation in the off season. collison is not our guy if we want to move up in the east in the future. as far as getting a true playmaker, i hope we can agressively pursue eric gordon in free agency, we need a playmaker bad.

  • NoLookPass

    After thinking about how often Tyler gets to the line I decided to see where he would stand PER36 and this is what i found.

    Players with a PER36 FTA of 7.0 or better among players with 1000+ MP this year:
    10.0 for Dwight Howard
    7.8 for Kevin Love
    7.5 for Kobe Bryant
    7.4 for LeBron James
    7.3 for Blake Griffin
    7.3 for Rodney Stuckey
    7.2 for Carmelo Anthony
    7.2 for Tyler Hansbrough

    Strong company for him to be in there, especially when you factor in the amount of star calls many of those other names get.