Post-Game Grades: Pacers Grind Out a W in Chicago

Winning ugly on the road. This team didn’t seem capable of that even two weeks ago. Now, while they didn’t look capable of running an offense for yet another evening on this young season, they did get the win. Paul George hit four tough shots in the fourth, David West made a helluva pass to a adeptly cutting Lance Stephenson, and Roy Hibbert saved the day with a game-saving block.

We get a kick out of digging through all the numbers and the film to figure out what exactly constitutes good play. It’s easy to look at a half-court set that must be completed in about 20 seconds and pick it apart. Trying to parse the happenstance from the replicable, effective play is really all we can do to better inform you readers.

But sometimes it’s just about making a few plays.

The Pacers played like trash in the first half on offense (they shot 31.6%). That started to subside a little in the third as they built a 9-point lead. Then Nate Robinson heated up and make a few plays, leaving Indiana to wonder if it was about to cough up a winnable game.

But George made those buckets, West found Lance and Roy did his thing. Could they do those things again? They did, so does it matter? Long-term, probably yes. But right now, after what had to be an confidence-deflating start to the season, the only numbers that matter are in the win column. They got a plus-one there tonight, and just won three of four on a road trip.

Bad teams usually don’t do that.

So while we dig through all the stats we can find over the next few weeks, that may be a good one to remember. Perhaps it’s as meaningless a number as everything else, but it’s probably the most promising number this team has put up this year.

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 | 3-12 FG | 4-6 FT | 9 REB | 5 AST | 10 PTS

Shot gross, but unlike a lot of players on this team, still helped the offense some. Most notably, with Indy up 2 and under a minute to play, he found Lance under the hoop for a layup. He also hit the two FTs late to ice it. Not a good game. But slightly redeemed himself late.

Paul George - 41 MIN | 14-25 FG | 9 REB | 3 STL | 2 BLK 34 PTS

The line speaks for itself and the way he over-powered Marco Belinelli to the rim on one occasion was arguably his best individual move of the year. Great game on the face of it. Let’s not forget that. But this wasn’t exactly the “he’s got it” game we should always hope for. His 4 buckets in the 4th were huge, but none were particularly good shots, and he was the one who let Luol beat him backdoor to force Roy to play defensive hero.

Roy Hibbert - 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 11 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS

Big fella can miss all the layups he want as long as he blocks every game-winning shot. He’s a big part of this factoid tweeted by @TimDonahue8p9s: “Pacers held Bulls to .411 eFG%. 15th time in 18 games Indy has held their opponent below their average in eFG%.”

George Hill – 37 MIN | 3-16 FG | 3 REB | 5 AST | 8 PTS

Forced shots, made a really bad read on a late pick-and-roll with West during the team’s last half-court set. Just not a good night executing, both individually and as the offensive QB.

Lance Stephenson – 38 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-3 FT | 7 REB | 6 PTS

Made a really nice defensive play in transition to entice Nate Robinson into a turnover and made an excellent cut to the block for that huge layup with under a minute left. Played generally well overall, despite some over-dribbling and one world-class chin-scratcher of a “shot attempt.”

Tyler Hansbrough – 13 MIN | 0-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 PTS

Interesting.

Sam Young - 11 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS

Hurt his leg by seemingly forgetting that cameramen sit courtside.

Gerald Green - 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS

Not memorable.

Ian Mahinmi – 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 4-6 FT | 0 REB | 6 PTS

Continues to be useful and find a way to help out the starters by scoring a few points while they rest.

D.J. Augustin – 11 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-3 FT | 2 AST | 2 PTS

I continue to find it difficult to gauge his performance with any nuance. It’s beginning to become either “bad” or “not bad.” This felt like a “not bad” for Darryl Gerard.

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