Despite their best efforts, the Pacers beat the Cavaliers. Before we focus on the ugly near-loss, let’s point out the most significant takeaway from the evening: the Pacers got their 17th win of the season outside of Indiana, guaranteeing them a winning road record for the first time since the first Roosevelt administration. Meaning Theodore. (I don’t actually know when the last time was. Someone look it up and tell us all in the comments. Probably 2003-04.)
Excellent milestone for a team that has shown that they are capable of winning against any team on any night in any building. Who really thought that could be possible right now even 6 months ago?
Unfortunately, what has generally been a very encouraging season has also included plenty of discouraging games like tonight. It was a dull, mundane game where the Pacers seemed to be going through the motions. And that seemed to be enough to beat a team that, as Mike Wells noted on Twitter, was “2-13 in their last 15 games” and has “called up 7 guys from the D-League this season.” Until it wasn’t.
Depending on your perspective, the Cavs either started forcing a bunch of turnovers late or the Pacers started to choke the game away and cough the ball up repeatedly. The outcome was the same. Cleveland cut the lead to 8. Then 5. Then 3. Then 1. Stop me if you can see the pattern. Soon, they were winning and extending a lead as the Pacers looked incapable of scoring. Indiana went nearly 6 minutes and 42 seconds without hitting a field goal in fact. A George Hill three-pointer ending that impressive run of futility. And it was a really good thing he showed up for work today. He added two layups soon after to tie the game and then give the Pacers back the lead.
His actions after that, however, will likely make most forget that the team probably would have lost without him on the court.
With Indy up 4 and the Cavs now the ones looking unable to score, Hill headed to the line with 25 seconds remaining. He missed the first. Then he missed the second. On the other end, Paul George foolishly fouled Tristan Thompson as he was dunking the ball to give Cleveland a traditional three-point play and leave the Pacers up just 1. Hill again got the inbounds pass and headed to the line. He missed the first. “Alligator-armed it again,” said Cavs color commentator Austin Carr. “Ball got awfully heavy.” Hill managed to make the second at least.
Down 2, the Cavs had 6 seconds to score. And they did. Easily, as Lester Hudson drove the lane and netted a floater.
To their credit, the Pacers handled their business in OT. They out-scored Cleveland 10-4 in the extra 5 minutes and Danny Granger was the one who made most of that happen. He hit a three, drilled another jumper and found Hill for an open three-pointer after having his drive stymied by an aggressive double-team.
So, yeah, they won. Which Pacers fans should consider wonderful, especially given the whole winning road record thing. But it wasn’t pretty. Don’t worry though: we get to watch these two teams play another 48 minutes — at least — on Friday night. Get excited.
|David West, PF 37 MIN | 6-9 FG | 7-8 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 19 PTS |
Wonderful line. Among his best this year.
|Danny Granger, SF 40 MIN | 8-18 FG | 5-5 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 23 PTS |
Granger has now scored at least 20 pts in 6 of the Pacers’ 7 games in April. In the other game, he had 18. Focusing on tonight, he was an OT beast, scoring 5 of his team’s 10 pts and assisting on a Hill trey.
|Roy Hibbert, 38 MIN | 4-9 FG | 11 REB | 5 AST | 4 BLK | 5 TO | 11 PTS |
Decent, although you want more points in nearly 40 mins. Had that nice dunk at the end of regulation, although it may have been “right place, right time” more than anything. 4 blks is nice. 5 TOs is gross.
|George Hill, SG 41 MIN | 7-14 FG | 1-4 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 17 PTS |
Missed 3 key free-throws that allowed the Cavs to force OT but was also a big reason the Pacers didn’t lose in regulation, hitting 3 huge buckets at a time when no other Pacer was doing anything. Call it even.
|Paul George, SG 34 MIN | 3-6 FG | 10 REB | 3 AST | 6 PTS |
|Dahntay Jones, SG 13 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 PTS |
Nothing to write home, or on a blog, about.
|Leandro Barbosa, SG 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 1 AST | 2 TO | 9 PTS |
9 pts on 7 shots is nice, but the turnovers weren’t at the best time.
|Louis Amundson, C 11 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS |
Did what he does.
|A.J. Price, G 12 MIN | 2-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 5 PTS |
Missed all his threes but distributed fine when he wasn’t chipping paint off the rim.
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 19 MIN | 1-5 FG | 7-7 FT | 4 REB | 9 PTS |
Once again, his uncanny ability to get to the line turns a rough shooting night into efficient scoring. Vogel will take it, I’m sure.