Post-Game Grades: Bronx Cheer the Deer

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.

The end.

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, 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.

Topics: Larry Sanders, Milwaukee Bucks, Post-Game Grades

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  • Rob

    PG’s grade is worth an A, 14 pts & 5 ast & 3 reb in just 24 minutes on 50%+ shooting.

  • NoLookPass

    One thing Frank must do is keep Hill as the PG id DC somehow comes back ready to play, now over 7 games in the starting 5 he has just 6 TO to 38 assists while adding 15.4 PPG.

    Another big thing we need is to get the second unit going sometime soon, would be nice if we could get a set PG there after a never ending run of musical chairs at the reserve PG rotation this season.

    AJ Price has gone 23:08 on the floor since his last assist and can’t shoot a lick unless its a blowout so it makes his inability to run an offense even more sick to watch. D Jones got away from his game tonight leaving his corner 3′s money shot to try other stuff which failed like always and Lou tried to do a little too much tonight.

    Disappointing we didn’t go back to Tyler down low after making his first two shots of the game in the paint after making two of three last game down there as well. Also let down we only got him one shot in the second half and that was a 17 footer with the shot clock about to explode, we need to get him going for playoffs since he will be a key factor in any run we make. Getting frustrating as he starts out 2-of-3 tonight in the paint then it was back to the broke ass long 17 foot jumpers with his one close shot spinning out. I find it hard to believe that common people have access to stats that show how his deep jumper is broke and that they should get away from it in favor of some shots in the post or at least in his jump shots range but our coaches don’t seem to notice. Dude must never miss a jumper in practice or something!

    Leandro Barbosa is in a funk shooting it as well unless he’s using his speed to get to the rack and he’s been more miss than hit which is a theme here. Since Hill went into the starting 5 the bench guys are shooting….

    40.9% for Barbosa *38.6% over last 6
    37.0% for Amundson
    37.0% for Jones
    35.4% for Hansbrough
    31.2% for Price
    00.0% for Collison on 2 shots and one leg

    If Barbosa wasn’t so fast getting his breakaway layups they all would be sub 40% without a playable or healthy PG. Its nice we won all of our games despite those poor numbers from the bench but its something that needs to be ironed out ASAP!

  • NoLookPass

    B- seems on the high side for Lou who shot 2-of-7 with 4 rebounds with one or two of those coming off his own bricks and a block in 22:45 (6.3 and 6.3 night PER36) which was 35 seconds off his longest outing. He got a flat B just last week posting 6 and 9 in 7 less min and 2 less shots, game before that was a C for 2 and 3 in just over 11 MIN on 1 shot with a block mixed in.

    But I felt the whole bench should got D’s with Barbosa getting a C who at least managed as many points as shots taken with basically half his whole night coming down to one sequence of plays resulting in his 4 point play.

  • Realist

    Agree with NLP as usual. Bench was rubbish again. Scoreless from 54 secs 1st Q (25-34 up) until David West scored at 7:26 in the 2nd (40-36 down). I swear it’s just Tyler and Barbosa taking turns at kicking the ball around waiting for the starters to come back in. Get DC in with that 2nd unit and pick ‘n roll with Tyler, DJ in one corner, Leandro in the other. Repeat.

    Also, apparently we kick ass in the clutch: ESPN article

    Check out that graph, last four years Boom Baby.

    Also, quote:
    The Pacers are by far this season’s best defensive team late in close games. They are followed by the Hawks, Kings (!), Spurs, Heat, Magic, Bulls, Lakers, Thunder and Clippers.

    And, news that Howard is having surgery and is out for the season. I know it’s not nice to root for that sort of thing, but who doesn’t like our chances first round against a Dwight-less Magic.

  • pemba

    everybody who was saying that george hill should start over DC has now been vindicated
    7-0 with hill starting is proof of that
    let DC boss the bench and we’re good to go
    i like this team
    the lockout season last time was weird, so anything is possible
    let’s get one for uncle reg!

  • Realist

    Can’t tell you how much I love our Hill-George (or George-Hill, lol) back court, btw. So good. Tall, quick, defensive minded. Salivatingly good.

  • Derek U

    Great game, great cap to the end of the season. I was skeptical of Ghill playing with the starting unit, but time has made it less awkward and they’re playing great. Can’t tell you how joyful it makes me to see Hill drive past the 3pt line, and pass to wide open shots.. D.C should take note and figure out how to make a play.

  • adam

    I’ll probably get some flak for saying this, but I think I’m more comfortable with Hill coming off the bench. 2nd unit just seems to be lost without him. Defenses are left to collapse on Tyler, and Barbosa seems to just “wing it” without Hill.

    Who know, maybe a healthy DC can have the same affect as Hill on the 2nd unit, but until shown otherwise I prefer Hill coming off the bench, then finishing the game with the starters.

  • other mike

    Larry Sanders was a dude on TILT at the end of the game. 3 fouls and 2 techs in about 45 seconds of play. Impressive. Im guessing all GH had to say was “you happy now?” and Sanders was gonna lose his sh&t. It was quite funny to watch, because I think it was pretty evident after Sander got hit with the elbow shot foul, he was not long for the game.

  • adam

    “That’s between me and him Without getting too much into it

    Am i the only one that thinks Tyler banged Dunleavy’s wife.

  • Joe B

    West’s return to All-Star form will be needed if the Pacers have any shot at taking down their second round match-up. Are the Pacers still projected to play the Magic?

  • Mike

    Adam – Hill is 7-0 as a starter and you’re wanting him on the bench so those guys can put up better numbers? Why??? And defenses don’t collapse on Tyler. He is most often guarded one on one because (as I’ve posted multiple times) the dude doesn’t have moves and he rarely passes it. NLP says his jumper is broke, well that jumper is exactly what he needs to hit if he is going to be able to do anything down low. If not, people will just dare him to bring it in the paint. Where, again, he has no moves. Against NYK and the Bulls last year Tyler was hitting those long shots. He has it in him and that has to be part of his game. If he can’t hit those then he’s Lou Amundson 2.0.

    I think DC/Leandro as a second unit backcourt is sick. Dahntay, Hands and Lou round out the group. Pretty solid hustle guys combined with the fastest backcourt in league (off the bench!) who can score with the ball. Along with Dahntay who can hit open jumpers and beat guys off the dribble. Hands and Lou just clean up the mess. No need to run plays for them.

  • Jesse

    Grady was making the case today that Collison shouldn’t even crack the rotation above AJ, since theoretically he hasn’t had much time to gel with the 2nd unit. I can’t go that far, though. A 100% Collison would have to be better than AJ.

  • Joe

    They are 7-0 wth G-Hill starting, despite how miserably their bench has played. The main reason their bench has been so awful is because it’s had AJ Price running a circus. They were 34-22 with Collison starting, so I think he is definitely capable of running the bench. Barbosa and Hans seemed to begin struggling when they lost a good PG in Hill, so DC should be able to give them better shots i.e. higher FG%.

    PG – George Hill
    SG – Paul George
    C – Roy Hibbert
    SF – Danny Granger
    PF – David West

    PG – Darren Collison
    SG – Leandro Barbosa
    C – Lou Amundson
    SF – Dahntay Jones
    PF – Tyler Hansbrough

    With the starters playing the way they have been, they could go toe to toe with Miami’s starters. Then, when the benches come out, the Pacers should take over the game during that time.

  • Ian

    I don’t know if Hill should be the starter, but why does everyone keep ignoring what a crappy schedule the Pacers have played during this 7 game winning streak?

    H: Toronto 103-98
    A Cleveland 104-98 in OT
    H Cleveland 102-83
    A Milwaukee 105-99
    H Minnesota 111-88
    A Philly 102-97
    H Milwaukee 118-109

    So, that’s 4 awful teams (Minny is awful without Rubio and Love), a team amidst one of the worst pre-playoff collapses in NBA history (Philly), and a slightly under .500 team (Milwaukee twice).

    It’s not that they aren’t great wins, and I the Pacers can only beat who they play. But you can’t realy draw many conclusions about Collison v. Hill by that run. Now if Collison steps in with the 2nd unit and plays as well as he did with the first unit, then by all means keep Hill as the starter. But there’s a very good chance the Pacers would have won all 7 of these games with either one at PG.

  • NexSerenade (Mike)

    Did anyone else notice the rampant grammatical errors in this post game review?

    I think the Bucks felt they were better than us last season, and after several signings and trades to improve both teams, we are third in the east, whereas they are still at the bottom fighting for a play off spot, so I think they’re perhaps a bit jealous.

    And, Yes, I think David West could eat Sanders’ children quite easily. :D

  • Mike

    Ian – Do you watch the games? Hill runs a better offense. The teams are crappy (for the most part) yes, but Collison (as a starter) has lost to some of those same teams. So do you still want to use the schedule as a factor? The Bulls were a ridiculous 10-2 or something (against a somewhat soft schedule) without Rose at one point. Rose shouldn’t play based on that right?

    I say look at the rest of the starters and not the pg. Whose numbers are up? Pretty much everyones. Who has the ball every possession (multiple times too)? The pg. Who cares what the bench numbers look like? Those will fluctuate every game. The starters are the guys you want carrying the scoring load on a consistent basis. NOT the bench. C’mon man!

  • AJ

    With all respect to DC, his injury was a blessing in disguise, b/c Hill should’ve been starting since the AS Break. His game just fits with the starters. GH3 gives us everything DC does, with much better shooting and defense. It’s not a coincidence we’ve not only been scoring over 100, but also holding opponents under the century mark; we did for 6 straight until last night, only accomplished by 6 other teams in NBA history. And I even count last night since we scored over 110 and held them under that.

    It’s better for the team on the court, and financially, seeing as we’re gonna have to extend Hill’s deal before DC’s. We can deal DC and pick up someone like Teague in the draft, but that’s for the off-season. Right now, we can’t mess up this chemistry. Reminds me of a combo of 2001 Sacto/2008 Celts teams. All 5 must play as 1 to excel.

  • adam

    @Mike

    IMO Hill with the bench would give us more balance. No question with him in the starting lineup they can play with anyone, but what happens when the bench comes in? Production goes flat. I believe that Tyler plays better when he has more scorers around him. Last year when playing with the starters, and again this year we started to see the “old” Tyler again when we had Barbosa & Hill with him in the 2nd unit.

    on another note, David west will be our X factor in the playoffs with the way he’s been playing lately. I’m not sure if it was a combination of him pacing himself throughout the year after knee surgery, or only taking his shots within the flow of the offense, but lately he’s been butting up efficient numbers, and just has been a beast. I’m glad he’s on our side.

    IF Collison can be more of a scorer, defense will no longer be able to double down on Tyler, and would also spread the floor more so he can get better looks on his jumper. Then I would have no problem with Hill remaining the starter.

  • dwain

    i like the Barbosa Tyler sub early,giving PGeorge and West an early rest, then adding the other players until it becomes clear the mix is no longer scoring or keeping up, then adding starters back in until they right the ship. i would also like to see Tyler as a true floater, with the first team and second and leave the straight second squad with Fes and Lou as the big men. With a little more playing time i think Fes could become a threat down low, and be a stopper rebounder next to Lou’s hard work, and if Lou grabs one and can’t put it back in easy he could dish to Fes for a finger roll putback. Unless DC comes back solid with the second unit i think without GHill they need a starter in there to score in the playoffs, someone to anchor them ….not let it get out of hand

  • NoLookPass

    When Barbosa and Tyler play with first unit guys the look far better but I think DC is somewhat healthy can spark the second unit. He and Barbosa’s speed and driving ability would force defense to stick with them open things up for Jones and Tyler and even would get Lou some more wide open dunks.

    With what we have how other teams would love to have AJ and Lou shoot and will leave them open some in hope of them taking more shots, When those two are taking more shots it takes shots away from the other 3 guys and those guys all want shots terribly bad and in turn leads to them taking shots they may not normally take if they knew that they would get the ball back if they give it up.

  • Jesse

    One thing to consider for the playoffs–starters will be playing more minutes, Probably something around 34-38 per game. The bench becomes a little less important. In any case, the decision has been made.

  • NoLookPass

    Doubt they would change things too much. This group was constructed to be a team with depth so I can’t see them getting away from that unless the bench gets blasted in playoffs and its forces Frank to make a change.