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.

Topics: Game Recap

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  • NLP

    Ugly but nice win, to an ugly but nice trip.

    PG hit some amazing shots all night with a guys all over him, and looked like a legit superstar hitting those difficult shots. Frustrating how he can have this game and his last game sandwiched around some pure garbage.Maybe all of our guys should go get up 500 shots on the off days, it sure as hell couldn’t hurt as bad as we shoot.

    Hill and West looked gasses after all the heavy lifting on the trip but they are still the best two passers on the team with West the best. The forgotten play that came up big was Hibbert’s long jumper than he almost shattered the glass that banked home. If that didn’t find a way in things would have played out different at the end. Also shocked they didn’t get Roy for the foul there at the end since it was in Chicago.

    We aren’t going to win anything until Frank fixes the bench or the FO makes a move to do it for him. We need some defined roles as now its 5 guys who are all limited on offense taking turns going one on one and its never going to work unless the a bad shooting group just happens to be hitting shots all at once.

    DJ isn’t a good PG if he does happen to find a guy open they are likely to miss it anyway and he never seems to get the bench better shots. Tyler shouldn’t be playing right now, as he’s pouting about not getting playing time and making up for it by getting his off forcing up shots every time he gets in inside the arc. Mahinmi is playing better but teams are going to adjust to his barreling down the to the rim exactly the same every time and start to taking the charge, leaving with him long jumpers or getting passed to by West. Frank played it smart with Green getting him out of there but we can play PG 41 a night and we’re going to regret giving him 3 years terribly bad if we aren’t already. Young when passing and not shooting is better than when he gets off early and wants to keep gunning way and may be the best passer on the second unit but when 3 of the guys can’t pass for anything its not saying a ton.

    • Jack Wright

      I was thinking the same thing about Mahinmi (his pattern of “barreling” to the rim). But he’s playing fine right now so I won’t question it just yet.

      It’s weird because I feel like we didn’t play that well in any game this road trip (I missed the SAC game, so I’m not sure about that one), but we somehow managed to return home 3-1. That’s a good road trip no matter who you are. I would love for us to get a few games above .500, but we’ll see what happens. It’s starting to get a little crazy how pretty much every single game we play comes right down to the wire. At least all of our wins have been that way (it seems like to me, at least). I guess that’s just a product of our mediocre offense combined with our nice defense. We’ll probably have to keep grinding out wins for the most part until Granger gets back.

      • Steadfast

        There is some silver lining here. Pacers have fallen to elite teams in 4th quarter crunch time many times in the last two years. If every game is like that then they have to get used to it and feel more confident under pressure. They have to….right? Please?

    • http://www.facebook.com/joebetzii Joe Betz

      Thankfully, Mahinmi has a better 17ft shot that TH, so defenses have to respect that. Green was never really slated for big minutes and is seen as someone who can spell Granger, provide a highlight play here, hit an open three there, and be athletic enough to match up with most 3s in the game. DJ is a serviceable backup. I think the second unit, once Granger is back and the second unit is actually set, will gel…remember, these guys are still learning to play with each other, and with Vogel’s rotations, that is really saying something…

  • dwaink

    first off…nice win!!! sorta felt coach V’s hand in this game, he rolled the dice running the starters too long, u could tell they were gassed but they hung in for a win, he yanked Green after a foolish play. Lance hung around and helped, West and Hill took a well needed vacation(but were there when it counted) and Roy and George pulled a tired team up on their backs and carried em over the goal line. Ian had some nice plays.
    Green needs to knuckle down, get with the Pacer way of life and make himself a career here, he has the talent all he needs is the will and the wish to get out of his own way…hey Gerald how bout smilin’ man u a pro! DJ has got to find somethin somewhere that makes him want to team with Green to make the Pacers a killer team, he has it in him to do it…

    • Jack Wright

      like the optimism. to me this win at least proves that we’re still a team to not take lightly. and i think the worst of the season is behind us.

  • Adam Cox

    Great win.
    Paul George was scary good tonight. He had this look in his eye at one point that reminded me of Lebron during the playoffs.

    Final play, was that really a block? Replays looked like Deng just tried to ‘tiger knee” Hibbert, while Roy just jumped straight up.

    David west showed he is in fact human tonight.

    Wasn’t pretty, but team is getting exciting to watch again.

    • Realist

      Yeah dunno about that “block”. Going straight up is good, not bringing the arms forward, good, but there was a lot of contact. Looked like Deng was just playing for the foul though, so I don’t mind the no-call. Plus, even the Bulls commentators, including Stacey-Worst-Commentator-Ever-King weren’t too outraged, so I think it was borderline at least.

      And they’re the Bulls anyway, so f*ck ‘em.

  • Realist

    Bench is painful. Rode the starters for 11 minutes straight in the 3rd quarter, and surprise surprise, 60-51 lead. Then I guess we just have to play “hold on for dear life” while the starters get their rest. Ugh.

    A+ for Paul George. This was better than his NOH 9×3′s game (attacking the rim > settling for 3′s), and he did it on Luol Deng.

    Anyway, pretty sure every single one of us on this site would’ve taken 3-1 on this trip in a heartbeat if we were offered it a week ago. Nice work, boys.

    • Jack Wright

      Lol “hold on for dear life” is exactly right

  • Jack Wright

    my favorite player paul george!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/philip.tarrant Philip Tarrant

    PG was confident today. He was knocking down shots and really feeling it out there. He’s playing better as a whole this year, but can’t seem to work out how to have that brass-balls confidence in himself night in and out. Every player has nights where it’s just not flowing, but the great scorers know how to make it work even when they don’t have it clicking. I hope that’ll come to George eventually because he has the skills to be a superstar if he can ever get that consistency.

    Had to watch the game on WGN, and got the announcers all bitching for 5 minutes straight that Hibb wasn’t called for a foul. The catchphrase used was “plenty of contact” to try to seem marginally impartial, and one of them even conceded that Hibb had “gone straight up, I’ll give him that.” However, the person they should have been deriding was Deng for shying away from the contact in the air, double clutching and just plain losing the ball. Hibb went straight up, didn’t come down with his arms, and arrived before the shooter. The fact that he was inside the semi-circle only prevents him from drawing a charge and should have no bearing as he was not attempting to draw a charge by any stretch. The officials made the correct (no-)call.

  • http://twitter.com/StretchFourNBA Stretch Four

    PG! Gotta love that he did it the game AFTER he took 500 jumpers.

    Pacers are now 7-5 with Lance Stephenson in the starting lineup. If they’re able to continue that level of play, they should be in good shape when Granger returns.

    Obviously the bench is gonna get a boost when Lance drops to the second unit upon Danny’s return. Here’s my questions now: will Vogel tighten to the rotation late in the season?

    Vogel has shown in the past that he’s not afraid to yank guys out of the rotation of that’s what it comes to; he did it with TJ Ford when he got the job and he did it with Dahntay Jones in the first round last year.

    I’ve gotta think that a 8 man rotation with last year’s starters + Lance, Ian, and Hansbrough would be great. Lance can obviously play the 1 or the 2, and I’d really like to see him take DJ’s minutes in the rotation. Ian is self-explanatory. And with Psycho T… well I know his offense is mostly miserable but it’s hard not to credit his energy and hustle considering he’s a backup 4. Even when he can’t score, he has the ability to change the flow of the game.

    I’m guessing Gerald Green will still get some minutes, but honestly that dude is one of the most frustrating players I’ve watched in a long time. He consistently takes a mental vacation during the game, and already single-handedly cost us a W against Minnesota. If he doesn’t figure it out, I’d love to see his minutes cut to 0.

    • http://twitter.com/StretchFourNBA Stretch Four

      Also as an aside, I absolutely love the new offensive action where Lance cuts down the baseline under the basket. We’ve seen it a few times during this road trip, and that look should be there as long as teams are loading up on West.

  • Rex

    Paul George played outstanding tonight but now he faces 3 really good Shooting forwards the next 3 games(Nicolas Batum, Andre Iguadola, Kevin Durant) will be interesting to see how he plays against them

  • http://twitter.com/WillDeitte Will Deitte

    We need a crafty, solid veteran off the bech who can SCORE. The starters build a lead and the bench loses the lead. At times, a stark contrast from last year. Also, what the hell happened to Hansbrough? His shot is abysmal. He whines SO much. I just laugh. This is coming from an ardent supporter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian-Murphy/1037267155 Ian Murphy

    Did Deng and George match up most of the night?
    For George to light up a DPY candidate from last year while holding him to crappy shooting seems worthy of an A+.
    Games like this and the 9 3s game show the potential he has. I’d be curious for statheads like Hollinger to find what kind of future success a couple of monster games like that predict.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joebetzii Joe Betz

    A shorter rotation against a better team served the Pacers well. Why Lance does not play more often on an offense-starved team is still a mystery to me. Imagine Sam Young finishing West’s pass under the bucket…he might do it, or he might hit the bottom of the rim. I think Vogel is figuring out how to handle Lance, Green, and Young–stop dividing….let Lance play unless he is really mucking it up…

  • lil-bang

    Grades look good Jared. I would have given PG an A+ if he would have got one more rebound for the double-double.

    Probably would have given Hibbert at B- just for Sprite commercialing the tip dunk he attempted, hahaha. Oh, man that was great.

    Great win. Good to get that on the road against a division front-runner early in the season, could come into play later.

    You ever thought about inluding the coach(Vogel) into these grades? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts from some of these games to see if it’s partly the coaches stratgey that is reason for something working greatly or something not looking good at all.
    One thing I saw last night is that Vogel is still behind Thibodeau on play calls. The bulls had a great play drawn up when they were down 4 with about 40 seconds to go. The fake hand off to Hinrich and Noah dribbled it in to draw Hib out only to dish to Boozer for a easy dunk. Never see a play like that coming out of the Pacers timeouts, or atleast executed that well. Despite the 100′s of games that have been “down to the wire situations” the past 5 years for this Pacers organization. If Vogel can figure this out, then this team would go really far. Because it seems like he has finally broken away from the clockwork rotation he was using. Last year he wouldn’t have put the starters in that soon in the 4th or left PG out there from 41 minutes. Great win in my opinion, not matter the score is when you beat Da’ bulls.
    GO PACERS!!!

  • Adam Cox

    Derrick Rose will never forget……

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