Well if that wasn’t one of the more entertaining games of the year then what was? The Pacers came out of the gates smoking and raced out to 27-15 lead less than 8 minutes into the game. They were on pace to score about 162 points, which probably would have been enough to win.
Instead, most of the starters checked out and the bench spent the next 4 and a half minutes not scoring a single basket. They made a few free-throws here and there but Mike Dunleavy, Jr. scored 9 points over the next 3 minutes and the Bucks tied the game back up early in the second quarter. It was a disastrous display of futility that soon allowed Milwaukee to take a lead as large as 5 at one point.
Fortunately, David West, who might have played his been overall game as in a Pacer uniform, started grabbing some offensive boards and generally putting his stamp on the game. He kept one possession alive long enough for Danny Granger to get an easy putback and tipped in a miss at the buzzer to put Indiana back up by 6 going into the half. It was nice that the starters righted the ship and all but disconcerting that one of this team’s supposed strengths — depth — nearly allowed such a great start turn into a game the team might not lose. Not exactly what you want to see so close to the playoffs.
The Pacers really never looked like they would lose again, however. They built the lead further in the third, with West now doing some nice work in another way: passing. He threw a tremendous full-court strike to a streaking Paul George, who caught the ball in stride and dunked without dribbling. It wasn’t quite as anomalous as Miami’s full-court alley-oops but it was only a small step below. Next, he found a cutting George Hill (I think … maybe another guy) in the lane for an easy lay in.
The rest of the game, though, was more WWF-style entertainment.
It started when Dunleavy got out in transition. As you may remember, the former Pacer hammered Tyler Hansbrough in late March, breaking the power forward’s nose and another facial bone with a flying dual elbow that forced him to wear that mask he was rocking for awhile. So there was some bad blood between the two already, which apparently may go even deeper than just that hard foul.
On this play, both Leandro Barbosa and Hansbrough were chasing Dunleavy and it looked like Tyler was poised to return the favor. He was taking an angle to make a play on the looming layup. Then, Leandro, as guys nicknamed “Blur” tend to do, beat him to the spot and threw a shoulder into Mike as he went up for the shot. Lil Dun went flailing off into the baseline photographers and Hansbrough tumbled into him after tripping over Barbosa. Dunleavy and Tyler exchanged some unpleasantries while tangled up on the ground before cooler heads prevailed.
Not so long after, Larry Sanders started acting foolishly. He picked up one technical foul disagreeing with a ref. Then he got a second for knocking Granger and Roy Hibbert to the ground while trying to fight through a screen. He wasn’t happy about it, and he exchanged some words with George Hill on the way off the court. West ran over to stick up for his little buddy, and Sanders had some stuff to say to, and some fingers to point at, David. Others got involved and a mini-fracas broke out, with Sanders pretending he wanted his teammates to let him go after West and then deciding that was a terrible idea once he managed to escape their grasp. This was presumably cause David could eat his children. A few more technicals were handed out and it allowed the Bucks to mount a last-ditch comeback effort that ultimately wasn’t enough.
|David West, 32 MIN | 9-14 FG | 3-4 FT | 14 REB | 7 AST | 21 PTS |
Quite possibly his best game as a Pacer. His ORBs helped Indy close out the 1st half strong and his passing led the charge in the 3rd quarter. Then, he showed what he means otherwise by sprinting over to defend Hill when Sanders was losing his mind.
|Danny Granger, 36 MIN | 7-20 FG | 11-11 FT | 5 REB | 29 PTS |
He’s playing so well in April that it’s getting uneventful and expected. Nice timing for that. Perfect at the line tonight in, most impressively, 11 trips.
|Roy Hibbert, C 23 MIN | 5-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 12 PTS |
Didn’t miss a shot. Post moves deadly. Although loses points for being the lowest-scoring starter, all 5 of whom were in double figures. It was the 11th time that has happened this year. Indy is 10-1 in those games.
|George Hill, 38 MIN | 8-12 FG | 4-7 FT | 5 REB | 8 AST | 22 PTS |
Pacers now 7-0 in games he has started at PG. 22 pts on 12 shots and 8 dimes. Combined, that’s 38 pts he directly contributed, although he owes his back-court mate dinner for giving him 3 great passes for easy buckets.
|Paul George, SG 24 MIN | 6-11 FG | 3 REB | 5 AST | 14 PTS |
Filled up the stat sheet and had the aforementioned great passes — particularly the steal, falling-out-of-bounds one — to Hill.
|Dahntay Jones, SG 12 MIN | 0-4 FG | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS |
I have nothing to add.
|Leandro Barbosa, SG 25 MIN | 4-10 FG | 3 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS |
The steal and save was great. The spot-up was greater. The 4-point play was greatest.
|Louis Amundson, C 23 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 4 PTS |
Lou being Lou. Nice block.
|A.J. Price, G 10 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS |
Unnoticeable individually for the most part but the team couldn’t score while he was running the offense in the late 1st/early 2nd quarter. It was really disgusting out there.
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-2 FT | 1 REB | 4 PTS |
Didn’t hit much, including the foul he tried to lay on Mike Dunleavy in transition. Although that one was just cause Barbosa got there first. No such excuse for the 5 missed shots from the field or the 2 from the line.