Post-Game Grades: Pacer Bench Delivers a Win Over the Wizards

It wasn’t pretty, but it was needed. “A really good victory for us. Our guys seemed a bit tired, but gutted it out,” said Pacer coach Frank Vogel after the game.

True…a win at home over the Washington Wizards isn’t the most impressive feat, but the Pacers desperately need to notch some wins while they figure out how to get back to playing good basketball.

It has all been ugly for the Pacers so far this year. They sit at 3-4, with just a few plays separating them from 0-7, and roughly the same number of plays separating them from 6-1. All is not right, and it probably won’t be for a while. Six of the first seven games have been grind-it-out affairs, and I asked Vogel after the game if that was just the way it was going to be this season.

“No, we’re gonna start rolling,” said Vogel. “I think that when you’re on a losing streak, and you’ve been on the road five out of your first six games, they’re always going to be a grind. I don’t anticipate it being a grind every single night. I think we’re going to get our legs under us and start playing some really good basketball.”

While tonight was ugly, there were some clear positives. First is the fact that they were able to get a victory despite a combined 7-for-31 shooting by Roy Hibbert and David West. Second was a strong bench performance, led Gerald Green’s 15 points and Tyler Hansbrough Tyler-Hansbrough-ness.

Frank Vogel made some adjustments to his rotations. The most obvious was inserting Lance Stephenson in the starting lineup and removing Sam Young entirely. Stephenson rewarded Vogel with 12 points in a very nice outing.

“He’s a little bit like Tyler,” said Vogel. “Obviously, they’re different creatures, but when he’s on the court, the energy of everybody else out there picks up. Offensively, he just needs to play fairly-mistake-free basketball. Statistically, he’s been our best wing option with Danny out.”

But, beyond that, Vogel has moved away from platooning, staggering the rotations such that bench players are playing with starters more. He hasn’t made any final decisions, but the adjustments delivered lower turnovers, improved bench play, and most importantly, a win.

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 - 35 MIN | 4-16 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 11 PTS
David didn’t play poorly, but like his partner in the paint, Roy Hibbert, he could not throw it in the ocean.
Paul George - 37 MIN | 8-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 20 PTS
Sterling first half. Forced a couple shots in the second, but looked more comfortable than he has all season. George said he’d prepared a little differently for tonight’s game. “I talked to assistant coach Boylen [before the game], and he told me I could be a lot more efficient. That’s something I really thought about.”
Roy Hibbert, C 26 MIN | 3-15 FG | 1-2 FT | 12 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS
A lot of looks for the big fella, but not a lot of makes. Still, he collected boards and defended the rim. Like Paul George, he’s been clearly uncomfortable this season, but he’s just got to work through it.
George Hill - 35 MIN | 3-9 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS
Definitely a step down from last night, but solid.
Lance Stephenson, SG 31 MIN | 5-7 FG | 4 REB | 2 AST | 12 PTS
Lance continues to establish himself as a solid NBA rotation player. He’s basically a third-year rookie, but he’s reached the point where his inexperience and judgment aren’t standing in the way of his talent.

Tyler Hansbrough - 21 MIN | 1-2 FG | 4-12 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +14
Rather than writing something, I’ll give you what David West had to say: “(Tyler) came in and just changed the tempo, changed the level of energy, and gave us some really solid minutes. When things like that happen, it gives other guys the confidence to come in and close the game out.”
Gerald Green - 28 MIN | 6-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 15 PTS
This is really the kind of game the Pacers need to get consistently from Green. Not necessarily the 15 points, but hit 50% from the floor, get some rebounds, minimize mistakes.
Ian Mahinmi - 14 MIN | 3-4 FG | 4 REB | 1 AST | 7 PTS
This is the efficient and effective Ian Mahinmi the team was hoping to see this season.
D.J. Augustin - 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1 REB | 2 AST | 3 PTS
Finally hit a kick out, and started to move more assertively with the ball tonight. Still a long way to go.

Tags: Game Recap

  • Realist

    4/12 free throws though. Still, that’s what we wanna see (FTA wise) from Tyler. Somewhere, NoLookPass is doing cartwheels.

    • NoLookPass

      I’m happy he got to the line but I’m worried he’s hurt. Seemed like he was messing with his eye or head all game after and early collision with one of the Wizards big men and then he sat out most of the 2nd quarter soon after only checking back in at 51.3 left in half after coming out between quarters,

      Frank changed his rotation style up but Tyler coming out for 11:09 seemed more than just a move after Hans played good in the first drawing 3 of the 5 Wizards fouls in the 1st and all of our FT with a couple rebounds.

      Only times he misses FT bad is when he’s get hit in the head and he almost had 4 air balls tonight and a couple more were extra long. Even one of the makes was a total brick than fell in.

      He was 22-for-25 coming in and made 2 of his first 3 before missing 7 of the final 9. He missed 4 vs Cleveland last year after getting popped in head and then had issues after Dunleavy destroyed his face in Milwaukee and followed that with a poor little run shooting them with the mask and still finished 81.3% last year.

      I haven’t heard anything else about it after the game but I hope the do the concussion test as a precaution, he’s playing strong D so I would hate for it to get bad again like when he had vertigo.

      • Joe Betz

        I was worried about the vertigo issue, too. At the end of the game, I saw him joking with Ben and Sam and he seemed fine. A few days between games should mean that whatever happened to his free throw stroke should be fixed

      • dwaink

        think Tyler was pretty roughed up and tired, those FT’s were hitting the front of the rim, sure sign the player is tired.

    • Aaron Huston

      Took him from 90% to 70% on the year, which is in line with his career avg. Still, we know Tyler is a very good FT shooter. I wouldn’t expect something like this to happen again.

  • Rex

    Hibbert and West were missing lots of bunnies tonight if those would of fallen this game wouldn’t of been close

    • Realist

      I know Hibbert’s always been a bit of a stiff, but every now and then, instead of a soft-touch put back, can’t he just try and rip the ring down? I mean, just dunk the damn ball like you’re the tallest dude in the league (pretty much). Less Shawn Bradley, more Shaq pls. Just every now and then, pleeeease.

  • eric

    Tyler Hansbrough-ness = Hansbrocity

  • Aaron Huston

    Lance! Lance! Lance!

  • Joe Betz

    When the bench is efficient and plays with the energy and athleticism that’s been added, the Pacers are tough to beat. I love watching Mahinmi defend the rim and change shots–something that just did not exist last year once Roy was out. Ugly win, but this is what a Granger-less team means–close games. Through seven games, the Pacers have played in the most games decided by three points or less–five.

  • Stretch Four

    Mark these words: Lance Stephenson is going to be the bellwether for the Pacers success until Granger gets back. Honestly, I’d like to see him gradually get more attempts. Something’s gotta open this offense up.

    • Jack Wright

      i really think that lance can end up being a great player. maybe an all-star at some point