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.

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