Post-Game Grades: Pacers Waste Oxygen, Everybody's Time in San Antonio

The Pacers probably knew they had to play better than they did in their first three games to beat the Spurs in San Antonio. That didn’t prevent them from coming out and playing even worse, however.

The first half was miserable, as nobody could hit a shot. Hard to blame them though really. Because they were almost all really bad shots. The whole offense was disjointed and jerky, with guys taking turns trying to make bad isolation plays more often than being part of a system that worked to get players open in positions where they could thrive. Here is all you really need to know if you were fortunate enough to spend your Monday night doing something other than watching this “game”: Indiana shot 6-for-22 in the first quarter (27.3%) and were barely better at the half (13-for-43 or 30.2%).

Meanwhile, the Spurs, who had the most effective offense in the NBA last season and returned all of their principal rotation staples, put on a clinic, whipping the ball around the half court and never settling for anything but a good look. It certainly helps that Tony Parker can get into the lane whenever he wants, and he and Tim Duncan exploited this, often moving the Wake Forest legend out to the top of the key to make room for Parker to either attack the lane or get the ball to Duncan in space, where he was free to swing the ball and force the defense to react or take it inside himself. Later, Manu got in on the action, blowing by a defender here, carving up the defense in a two-man game there, and shot-faking Pacers out of their socks everywhere. Then there were the supporting shooters. Always, in San Antonio, are the supporting shooters. They shared the load of knocking down 8-of-18 three-point attempts, with Danny Green, Indy’s ol’ friend Stephen Jackson and Matt Bonner each sticking two a piece.

This was basically a tiger playing with its food.

Looking at this shot chart from just before half time should tell you everything else you need to know about which team was getting whatever shot it wanted, whenever it wanted, and which team was just wandering around like Walking Dead geeks, reacting to the slightest stimuli and following its basest, mindless instincts until they were overcome by foes bright enough to severe their brain stems with rudimentary tools.

In case you weren’t sure, the Spurs side (right) is the one with almost every shot coming at the rim or behind the three-point line. These are the two most effective spots on the floor to shoot. Meanwhile, see all those Xs on the top side of the Pacers chart inside the arc? In this case, X marks the spot where bad offenses generate a ton of shots that tend not to go through the hoop.


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 - 25 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 11 REB | 10 PTS
Not horrible, which might make him tonight’s MVP. Hoooray, beer.
Sam Young - 16 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 3 REB | 3 PTS
Less responsible than all the other starters for what happened. Mainly because he is the new guy but also because they are ostensibly NBA starting-quality players while he really just isn’t.
Paul George - 41 MIN | 5-13 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 4 TO | 14 PTS
Played some good defense. Missed the vast majority of his shots and was unable to create many good ones.
Roy Hibbert - 27 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 TO | 2 PTS
George Hill - 31 MIN | 5-15 FG (2-7 3PT) | 4 REB | 6 AST | 15 PTS
Stat line looks not horrible for a hot second, but he was not good and it shows if you keep looking. And fair or not, this is his offense. And this offense shot 13-for-43 (30.3%) in the first half

Miles Plumlee - 4 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1 REB | 2 PTS
Welcome to the NBA, buddy.
Tyler Hansbrough - 23 MIN | 1-7 FG | 7-9 FT | 6 REB | 9 PTS
Was better than the 1-for-7 shooting would suggest, which I know isn’t saying much, but sparked some activity and got some points at times when the Pacers looked like they might have a fighting shot of getting back into the game. (They never did, but A — er, C+ — for effort.)
Gerald Green - 26 MIN | 4-10 FG | 8 REB | 1 AST | 9 PTS
People were expecting stuff from Green this year.
Ian Mahinmi - 17 MIN | 2-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 6 PTS
Not too shabby. None of it was at all meaningful given the state of the game, but he wasn’t so bad.
Ben Hansbrough - 4 MIN | 1-1 FG | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS
Welcome to the NBA, buddy.
D.J. Augustin - 13 MIN | 2-6 FG (2-5 3PT) | 2 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTSHad some real decision-making lapses. Made a few shots.
Orlando Johnson - 4 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS
Welcome to the NBA, buddy.
Lance Stephenson - 9 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS
Didn’t see as much court time as you would expect, but I guess the game was pretty pointless pretty quickly.

Tags: Game Recap

  • NoLookPass

    Well the only positive of this game was Ben and Miles getting in the books with their first NBA points.

    Franks runs a terrible offense and far too many times our bigs get stuck forcing up jumpers late in the shot clock and we’re back to shooting tons of long jumpers overall as a team.

    Granger isn’t even here and we don’t have enough shots to go around, so its only going to get worse when he gets healthy. Virtually every single guy on the team needs the ball in his hands to be successful and we have just one ball and limited shots. For us to ever be a good team we need to dump one of our score first guys for some who fills into a set role.

    I honestly amazed we aren’t 0-4 right now with the level of play we’ve show to date.

    Big Roy forgot to show up having an embarrassing night for a max contract player. George Hill passed well early and ended up with 6 of 11 assists but he shot it terrible like everyone else except when he took it to the hole where he looked strong.

    Paul George not ready to be a #1 option yet, and somehow he went from 13 boards a game to 3 in 40:31 in a game we shot terribly. He’s also been a To machine early but seems like everyone has been with as many as we’re racking up.

    West was and was our best player like most nights and about the only guy I have any faith in shooting a jumper on this team. He Young and Tyler seem like the only 3 guys who honestly cared tonight but when two of them are limited talent wise its not going to cut it.

    Good thing for Gerald Green he got so many offensive rebounds bounce right back to him for a score, without those no telling how bad things could have been. Augustin has been totally invisible this year once the season started, and where was Lance, Frank played him 25:06 and then 32:24 last game before getting 5:35 until some late garbage time play.

    With Tyler using his left hand this year we need to get back to getting him down low to draw fouls and not shooting jumpers which I think he’s missed every on taken this year and damn near all of them in the preseason. And for the love of god why do they give it to him with 4 or less seconds left time after time? I also hated him guarding Bonner out at the 3 point line like they did with him so much at the end of last year. You have a player named Psycho T and you have him out at the 3 point line is silly IMO.

    With Tyler stuck out top they just abused Mahinmi down low at times mainly DeJuan Blair but anytime the guards got toasted Ian was left on island all alone almost always ending bad for us. Seems like every time the second unit gets blasted its because we leave our center to rebound and play D all alone. He did looker closer to his preseason offensive self tonight which was a positive.

    I think the bottom line is Frank is a bad coach or Brian Shaw’s influence is a negative. Players like Darren Collison did good before coming here, become mediocre under our offense then goes to Dallas and looks good again with back-to-back double-doubles with no Dirk to pass to and putting up 8.5 dimes a game over the first 4 and that was with a 4 assist game to open the season with 34 assists to just 6 TO.

    • Stretch Four

      You’re raising a really interesting point about the coaching that I think we will hear a lot more in the near future. Vogel is obviously a great motivational guy, but the X’s and O’s part of his coaching is less clear. Now that his team has high expectations and is dealing with adversity, can he prove he’s really a great coach by turning it around?

      • Jack Wright

        i might not even say he is a good motivational guy

        • Stretch Four

          The team definitely picked up it’s spirit a ton in the year since he took over for O’Brien, although to be fair being a better motivator than O’Brien isn’t saying much. I think he gets his players to play hard for him, but he might not know how to get the best play out of them overall.

    • kemosabe

      I’m in agreement. I was willing to give Vogel a chance, but I just don’t see a good coach right now. He’s just not ready. Have no idea how Shaw is contributing to this mess.

      • Tenacious D.

        Don’t blame Vogel. He maxed out this team’s performance last year and the front office gave him no additional talent in the off season. In the NBA if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. Fortunately, Granger and West will soon be off the books. That will give us an opening to sign a real player for $20MM or so. That’s what it costs to get a star in this league.

        • Jack Wright

          wow i disagree with everything u just said. i really don’t think vogel “maxed out” the team’s performance last season. we won games and were fairly successful because Larry Bird gave us one hell of a talented team. (actually, i do agree with u that the front office gave us no additional talent this offseason.)

          and about getting rid of granger and west… hell no.

          • Tenacious D.

            Oh, come on. We barely exceed $50MM in payroll. You don’t get a hell of talented team in the NBA for that. No way, no how. Consider the playoffs: If Dwight Howard had been playing, Orlando would have taken us 6 or 7 games. If the Heat don’t lose Bosh, we get swept. This is a good team–a solid playoff team. But, we have no legitimate stud on this squad. We will need to get one if we want to see the conference finals, plain and simple. We can’t make a play for a star player until after this season, when payroll falls to just over $30MM. Then we have room to play with the big boys. We need a true top 20 scorer. None on this team right now.

          • Jack Wright

            we absolutely we’re able to put together a hell of talented team, despite our small payroll. larry did it. and in the offseason it seems we made moves which caused our bench to get even worse, but we’ll see. i don’t think you realize how good our starting lineup is. it’s one of the best (or THE BEST) in the league. Even though we don’t have a “legitimate stud,” we have a starting unit full of great players. it’s not that we need more star power to win a title.. we need better bench players and a coach who can tighten the screws on the team as well as enforce an effective offense. you’re completely speculating about the magic and heat series if howard/bosh weren’t injured, and you’re speculating that if we got rid of granger and west, and signed a “legitimate stud” (such as who??), the team would improve. i don’t think it would. the lineup we have, especially when granger’s not hurt, has great chemistry and can play with the best of them. we saw that in the series vs the heat. we lost that series because of our bench.

  • The Other Ian

    Too harsh on PG and Green. Not good (who really was?) tonight but not F worthy. Also could make a case for Hill not deserving an F

  • Sam Myers

    Hansbrough and West play with so energy and tenacity. It’s a shame nobody else plays like that. Everybody’s hyped Paul George up so much yet he doesn’t perform when it matters. We have a long way to go to even be a Top 5 East team. I doubt we get there without Granger getting back.

  • Joe Betz

    I would agree with being too harsh on PG and Green–PG’s hustle blocks and Green’s line move them up at least to Ds

  • Stretch Four

    There’s just no way you can win a game if you’re completely incapable of scoring to the level that the Pacers displayed tonight. The defense held up well enough for a while against a Spurs offense that’s been absolutely killer for the past year or so, but when you can’t hit ANY shots you’re going to lose all momentum.

    I wrote an article about how Paul George is being miscast on offense, and how Lance Stephenson can help. Check it out here:

  • Corey Palmer

    I agree with the harshness on the starters. The bench was outscored by the margin of defeat. I know the offense wasn’t run well even when all the starters were in at once, but it sadly looks like we’ve got the same old bench problem again.

  • Ian Murphy

    Again, if you don’t have a PG who can run the show like a Chris Paul, you need to have great ball movement and team play. The Pacers simply don’t have that, in the slightest. They really don’t look like they have a plan, like they are just freelancing or dumping it into Roy. I realize there are a lot of new teammates but shouldn’t at least the starting offense be a little more effective?

  • Jack Wright

    not sure how george hill gets an F. he’s the only guy who played with some fire and was aggressive. it may be his offense, but it’s vogel’s team. right now i’m blaming our poor start to the season on vogel and on the offseason moves, which right now are looking extremely bad. wouldn’t it be nice to see collison and barbosa coming off the bench?? man that sounds nice. but our biggest issues are our turnovers per game (we’re turning it over a lot more than we’re forcing our opponents to), our lack of assists, and our bench play. i also might add 3-pt shooting pct to that.

    but, this game isn’t the worst thing in the world for the pacers. the spurs played one heck of a good game. and despite gerald getting an F, i did see some more aggression and possibly some more comfort in his game. and let’s not forget that our starting lineup is still a well-oiled machine (despite last night’s performance), and the team will only begin to play better as hibbert starts knocking down more post shots, the bench guys start improving (they can only improve from here, right?), granger returns, and, hopefully, vogel knocks this team into shape. if he isn’t able to do that, he should be gone. the pacers can’t afford to have their talent wasted by a coach who can’t teach them how to not play sloppily and stagnantly.

  • Petey’s Head

    J Wade, what’s up with the dry, sarcastic humor shtick this year? Your sarcasm reeks of homemade fermented pickles. Stop.

  • Jack Wright

    People can talk all they want about George Hill not being able to run an efficient offense. I’ll tell you, though, George Hill is the last thing the Pacers need to worry about. Turnovers, lack of ball movement, terrible bench play.. It all comes back to coaching.

    I agree with most of what NoLookPass said, but I disagree that we need to get rid of one of our score first guys. When Granger gets back, our full starting unit will be back, and let’s not forget that it is without a doubt one of the very best starting groups in the league. Our starting lineup is our strength. It’s a well-oiled machine. Let’s not talk about possibly eliminating that strength by trading one of our best guys, just because the team as a whole hasn’t played its best so far this season. Last night in the last half of the second quarter, we we’re down by 20 or so and Vogel finally put the starters back in. The Spurs had their starters in, too, and they even played well for the rest the quarter and hit a bunch of shots. But our starters were still able to cut the deficit to 10 before halftime. The problem isn’t George Hill or any one player in the starting lineup.. The problem is the bench, along with careless turnover after careless turnover. So I blame Vogel. Unless he turns it around, get him out of here.

  • dwaink

    going to agree with nolook, the way this game hashed out is on coach V, if he doesn’t insert something other than this quasi iso offense the Pacers may really falter this year…and u can’t ask DJ to PG an iso offense…and u can’t rebound if yer bigs are at the 3 point line….and every team in the league seems to have our number, collapse on Roy and swipe at the ball when any of our bigs go for a shot…Houston(SA) we have a problem….

  • Rex

    Roy Hibbert has been the most disappointing player this season by far, the only thing he has done well is block shots he has not been able to score or rebound the ball