Post-Game Grades: Indy JV Squad Beats Detroit

What happened in this game is largely irrelevant. It was a glorified exhibition that dozens of fans in Bankers Life Fieldhouse got to see their favorite team win. But I think it was an excellent penultimate game of the regular season for the Pacers both physically and psychologically.

The physical part is obvious: George Hill and Danny Granger were both a little banged up and they didn’t have to play while Roy Hibbert is a giant human being who got to rest (and certainly has some bumps and bruises of his own). In order to get out of the second round, Indiana will need to play four near-perfect games, and for this roster, that means high-level contributions from at least seven, if not more like nine, guys. So the better everyone’s body feels, the better chance — in theory — they have of making that happen.

The second part is psychological. And it’s probably more important.

Again, to exceed expectations, Indiana needs everyone to play well. And given their lack of superstar power, it will also help if everyone is of a similar “us agains the world” mentality. The most potentially delicate balance in that regard is the fact that the team just demoted its starting point guard. Frank Vogel needs that to be a decision Darren Collison can live with while still contributing. Hopefully, by keeping DC coming off the bench tonight, Vogel showed him that this move is less a demotion and more about optimizing the personnel and having a high-functioning second unit. That could help him truly believe, even if ever so slightly, that this is similar to the roles accepted by guys like Manu in San Antonio, Ray Allen in Boston, Jamal Crawford in Atlanta, Lamar Odom in Los Angeles. It’s just what is the best role for him to take as this team heads into the playoffs. (Although the team is really going to need him to play better in said role once the regular season ends. Yikes. He was ugly out there.)

Second, it’s great to get minutes for AJ Price, Jeff Pendergraph, Kyrylo Fesenko and Dahntay Jones, who himself was formally demoted out of the playoff rotation recently. These guys, with perhaps the exception of Jones, likely won’t have any significant on-court impact on the playoffs. But they are members of this team and will be there for all the shootarounds, plane trips and halftime speeches. So to whatever degree they can actually feel invested in the team’s upcoming postseason run, the better. A guy like Pendergraph likely feels like he is on the outside looking in so getting his first career start so close to the end of the regular season will likely make him feel more a part of the team’s success. The fact that they got run in a win only makes it more galvanizing.

Lastly, I think it will help David West and especially Paul George to get have gotten some live NBA minutes playing a role in which they were forced to be more aggressive. Each defers a little more than they probably should. So to play every minute of a game feeling like they not only have the green light but should actually force a few shots — not for selfish reasons but because it will help the team — can’t hurt either. I mean, when else has George gotten 15 free-throw attempts in a game before? Who knows if that mentality of “I”m actually better than most guys” will carry over when the team could benefit from an individual making a play in the second round. But, again, it is unlikely to have any detrimental effect.

So, sure, all this is coming from some idiot sitting at a desk playing armchair psychologist, which he knows is dumb. But it was a nice win earned in a way that could have some nice residual affects throughout the roster. Ultimately, I think Vogel was playing some chess here and came up with an excellent lineup that maybe, just maybe maximized the value his team got out of what was otherwise as meaningless a victory as is possible in this league.

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 28 MIN | 9-19 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 20 PTS
Took a lot of shots and now has 20+ points in his last 3 games. This from a guy who had only done so 5 times prior this season. He’s now averaging 15 ppg on 55% in April. Nice time to start getting your score on.
Dahntay Jones, 23 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 6 PTS
Ya know, just Dahntayin’ around out there. Played fine.
Jeff Pendergraph, 18 MIN | 5-10 FG | 7 REB | 1 AST | 2 BLK | 10 PTS
Possible Hall of Famer. Nice first career start for the kid.
A.J. Price, G 17 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 2 PTS
OK.
Paul George, 6-15 FG | 13-15 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 27 PTS
Beastly. Definitely the best preseason performance of his career.

Leandro Barbosa, 4-11 FG | 4-5 FT | 9 REB | 2 AST | 4 STL | 13 PTS
Sure did fill up that stat sheet. And nice for him to see the ball go through the hoop a few times, I reckon.
Louis Amundson, 16 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-4 FT | 5 REB | 2 PTS
Not so good.
Tyler Hansbrough, 4-10 FG | 5-5 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 13 PTS
Played very well at times while his grandpappy Psycho Pop Pop watched courtside.
Darren Collison, 31 MIN | 1-8 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 4 PTS
Ouch.
Kyrylo Fesenko, C 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS
He’s a house.
Lance Stephenson, 10 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS
Nice to see him out there again. I suppose.

Topics: Detroit Pistons, Post-Game Grades

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  • NoLookPass

    Nice win still not 100% sure how it happened and it sure was hard to watch at times but nice to win it without many of the big guns.

    Paul George was getting the star treatment tonight, he was bowling people over and getting and one’s out of them. If they called him tight like they have most of the year he would have been on the bench for most of the night. With that said I hope they turned the corner on him and start giving him them more often.

    Hope Darren Collison gets his game back over the rest of the week. 1-for-8 with 6 TO and a few other bad passes not accounted for in stats was rough to watch and easily his worst career game. The normal bench guys played atrocious tonight other than we got out running and then they looked awesome. The 11-13 guys on the roster looked very nice which is a nice problem to have.

    Starting to feel bad for Tyler its like the refs got yelled out by the league office for calling so many fouls his way because he’s not getting anything now is if he gets leveled and they even are letting some of those slide recently. Plus his grandad call him fat on slow on TV.

    I don’t think he’s got a foul yet on the play when he sets a screen rolls to the rim and the guard hits him with the ball and then he gets hacked across the wrists as soon as he gets it and starts to shoot. Its always ruled a block shot out of bounds maybe 1 of 3 are clean.

    Hope Danny and Hill heal up quick and are as close to 100% as you can be this time of year for the first round.

  • Realist

    Classic Pendergraph!

    Also, are we resting in the CHI game as well or what? Keep the guys fresh or try to play ourselves into form etc. ?

    With this win we clinch homecourt over everyone in the West except SAS and OKC obviously. A Pacers-Lakers (ooh yes please), Pacers-Clippers, Pacers-Grizzlies etc finals would give us homecourt. Unlikely, sure, but anything’s possible.

    Also re Pendergraph, I think he may have started 4 games in Portland. Otherwise I’d be bragging that he averages 10-7 and 2 blocks at 50% FG in games started.

  • Nick

    First time commenter, but I’ve been reading all year and always appreciate the insight on everything Pacers.

    I completely agree about PG; it’s amazing how effective he is when he gets the star treatment (and of course plays a sub-par team). It’s been evident how frustrated he gets when he gets early fouls, but he has to either be smarter or at least not let it affect him quite as much come playoff time. If he can play up to his level, there is a lot to love about these Pacers in the future.

    I wonder if this month is proving that David West’s healing process took longer than everyone expected, and if he’s just recently become 100% physically and mentally. I know I speak for everyone in Pacer nation when I state how valuable it is to have a guy who can be a leader on the floor and in the locker room, and seeing him stand up for George Hill in that Bucks game is the kind of team chemistry/togetherness this team has lacked for too long.

    Am I in the minority that thinks with every passing game/injury, that the Pacers have a legitimate shot at getting to at least the Eastern Conf. Finals?

  • jswid

    I think Vogel has ran more plays through David West more than his knee healing. The first half of the season DC never ran PNR with West and now its very clear that has been happening a lot more in our offense. Plus I think West is now more confortable with our offense now that he has had 60+ games under his belt with us. I hope he can keep this up cause I do NOT see anyone on the Magic nor Bulls staying toe to toe with West. He will deff be our X-factor

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  • Tom

    gotta give fesenko a better grade! he was really active on both ends of the court, and made some instant impact plays off the bench. once again, we’re grading on a scale here, right?

  • http://indysportsbarn.wordpress.com El Conquistador

    this game kind of felt like kicking a puppy while it was already down, but since that puppy is part of the reason that the Pacers found themselves out of the playoffs for like 5 years I guess I am ok with strapping on my steel toes.

  • Mike

    Nick – I agree on West. I think he’s finally up to speed and really getting back to the D West Bird thought he was signing. Not saying he has been a wash this season, but you can definitely tell that he’s found his niche with this team.

  • Evan

    I’ve been saying this since the first round series against the Bulls last year — the Pacers need a closer. David West has emerged as “that guy” for us who wants the big shots and relishes those moments. All too often against the Bulls the Pacers would play hot potato with the ball until we got an awful shot at the end of the shot clock or turned it over. West has given this entire team confidence and it has finally allowed me to breathe a little at the end of close games! I truly think that if the Heat play the Knicks and it’s a hard-fought series the Pacers have a great chance of knocking off Miami. I also don’t think we should be looking that far ahead so let’s just focus on beating Orlando first ;)

  • Dario

    AJ was typical AJ, 6 dimes is a great number for the minutes with the JV squad——and if this was a playoff game, he should have replaced Dc down the stretch—-but I think Dc will recover just fine, the paint was awful crowded last night—–Tyler got no calls last night, except against him—–but kept his nose to the grindstone and besides and incredulous look at refs, never complained—–The FEZ, the kid can give us some decent minutes, he is bigger than he looks on TV, and so is West by the way—–George and Tyler pulled the game out at the end—–Tyler getting a key offensive board in the 20/30 second range, and a couple of free throws I think—–and George outraced everyone on the floor in the final 15 seconds, crossing across 3/4 of the floor to steal a rebound from Detroit and seal the game—–that even brought Larry to his feet! Now that was a superstar play!

  • Nick

    Mike- I’m not even sure Bird is disappointed with D West’s production, but I’m sure Bird is glad to finally see the old David West. West has certainly developed a good rapport with PG and G Hill, and I think that has also helped. He’s just the team leader that the Pacers really haven’t had. Maybe it’s just me, but while maybe this is still Danny Granger’s team, Danny has always seemed more of a Pippen than a Jordan, in that he doesn’t want to always be “the guy” on and off the court if he doesn’t have to be.

  • Jesse

    Watching David West perform like an all-star has been eye-opening. It’s fun to imagine how good this team could be if he was performing closer to his career numbers. I’ve liked him all season, but I’m beginning to understand why New Orleans was so sad to see him go.

    On closers–there was an analysis in the last week or two that showed that Granger is one of the league’s best in the last five minutes–as compared to his averages in the other 43. But he hasn’t hit a game winner this season so it doesn’t feel like it. That said, West has been excellent at the end of games lately.

  • Nick

    I love what PG brings to the table, but I think we can all agree that come playoff time, Granger or West should have the last shot if open, not PG.