Post-Game Grades: Pacers Come Oh-So-Close Against Philly

There was a lot to like about last night’s overtime loss to the Sixers. The announced attendance of 17,701 didn’t look like much of an exaggeration to my eyes. It was a large, enthusiastic, wholly pro-Pacer crowd.

And they were treated to a pretty good game…Lots of action…Lots of momentum swings…Some great play by David West and a big game from Tyler Hansbrough.

But, at the end, it still was a loss. In the grand scheme of things, that probably doesn’t matter all that much, but I have to wonder how many more converts to Pacerland would have been made…if Paul George had hit a thrilling game winner…or if the Pacers could have closed out the overtime when they had the lead.

It was a fun-ugly game. It was 48 minutes of playoff intensity, with another five minutes thrown in as a bonus. Both teams scrapped and clawed as if this was an elimination game.

The Pacers made big plays and big shots, but Philly made more. After the game, I told George Hill that it felt to me that the Sixers had hit an inordinate amount of “difficult” – read: “bad” – shots, and if he agreed.

He shrugged his un-iced right shoulder, and said, “That’s what desperate teams do. A desperate team is going to try and claw its way out. They played with great desperation, and they made some big plays down the stretch, and we couldn’t make a couple.”

And that’s really both the difference in the game, and why we watch. Not just watch, but invest in watching the Pacers, and sports in general. The passion. The effort. The desperation.

Ugly game. Fun game. Playoff game.

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 | 13-22 FG | 6-6 FT | 12 REB | 32 PTS
Beginning to assert himself as the playoffs approach, scoring 14 of the Pacers last 24 points, but just wasn’t quite enough.
Danny Granger, SF 41 MIN | 2-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 4 PTS
Needed more scoring from Danny, but still a positive sign that he collected 11 boards. Most troubling was the zero free throw attempts in on one of the more ineptly officiated games I’ve seen in quite some time.
Roy Hibbert, 34 MIN | 2-10 FG | 7-10 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 11 PTS
Poor shooting night, but did get to the line 10 times. It was disturbing to watch a post up at the 4 minute mark of the third, where he couldn’t budge the 6-9, 225-pound Lavoy Allen an inch, and settled for a half-hook from three or four feet outside of its effective range.
George Hill, SG 37 MIN | 4-11 FG | 2-4 FT | 5 AST | 10 PTS
In the post-game locker room, Hill sat at his locker with his shoulder iced, cutting of the tape on his ankle. When finished, he threw the wadded tape at a large plastic trash can sitting about 20-feet from his chair. When the tape hit the side of the can just below the lip, he said, “Just like every shot tonight.” Pretty much.
Paul George, SG 44 MIN | 6-13 FG | 7 REB | 3 AST | 16 PTS
Strong line in his newly expanded role, but still needs to grow overall. Didn’t get a good shot at the end of regulation, and, of course, the 5-second turnover. Still, I’m not convinced that any of the 9 guys taken in front of are going to have better careers than he does.

Leandro Barbosa, SG 21 MIN | 2-9 FG | 5 REB | 4 AST | 4 PTS
Need more points and better shooting from him, but nice to see the 5 rebounds and 4 assists.
Louis Amundson, C 12 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS
Solid game from Lou, but nothing overtly noticeable. Ran that one fast break like Magic Johnson.
Tyler Hansbrough, PF 24 MIN | 8-14 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 17 PTS
Tyler’s ability to succeed in the NBA is entirely predicated on his decisiveness, and his ability to consistently hit 18-foot jumpers. The former drives the latter. Tonight, he had both.
Darren Collison, PG 16 MIN | 3-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 AST | 8 PTS
Nice shooting night, but we’ll have to see how he plays with the second unit. A big question mark heading towards the playoffs.


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