Post-Game Grades: The Pacers Best Loss of the Year is still a Loss. Thunder 104 Pacers 93

This season wasn’t supposed to be about moral victories – if you believe in such things. Therefore, the fact that the Pacers went toe-to-toe with arguably the best team in the NBA on their home floor offers little succor to either the Pacers or their fans.

The 11-point margin in the 104-93 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder is a little bit misleading. The Pacers definitely made it interesting, getting up off the canvas twice to fight back into the game.

But, in the end, they were done in by their fatal flaw – they simply can’t score reliably.

The first half was one of their best offensive performances of the season, scoring 56 points on a Thunder D that entered the game ranked 10th in defensive efficiency. However, the Pacer offense we all know and loathe showed up for the third quarter, scoring 19 points on an offensive efficiency of 82 points per 100.

Indy opened the 4th with a 6-0 run, and were within three with about 5-1/2 minutes left, when an 8-0 put the game out of reach – at least of this offense.

In the final 3 minutes of their losses to Denver on Friday and Oklahoma City tonight, the Pacer offense has missed 9 of their 10 field goal attempts and scored only 6 total points. That’s a pace to score 48 points over a 48 minute game.

So, while this was an entertaining game, it comes to the same result. The Pacers’ best loss of the year is still a loss, and their offense remains punchless – especially when it’s needed the most.

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, PF 38 MIN | 10-16 FG | 1-3 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 21 PTS | -3

Was a general beast for most of the game, but managed only two 4th quarter points and (worse) only two 4th quarter shots. OKC had success removing him from the offense by fronting him when he was trying to come up to set the screen at the elbow – much like Miami with Battier last May.

Paul George, SF 39 MIN | 5-15 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 17 PTS | 0

Poor shooting night, but still produced 17 points & 8 boards, Gave an admirable defensive performance, but Kevin Durant is just that good.

Roy Hibbert, C 27 MIN | 4-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS | -1

This is Roy Hibbert’s offensive game right now: Couldn’t convert on the block against the 6’5″ Thabo Sefolosha. Utterly annihilated at the rim by the 6’3″ Russell Westbrook. Still plays defense, but he’s barely a net positive right now.

George Hill, PG 39 MIN | 5-14 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 15 PTS | 0

Scored some points. Didn’t shoot well. Unsurprisingly, unable to guard Kevin Durant in the post.

Lance Stephenson, SG 25 MIN | 4-8 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 10 PTS | +4

Another solid performance from Lance tonight.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 10 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 2 PTS | -8

Pointless…and I don’t mean scoring-wise.

Sam Young, SF 9 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS | -11

Not good.

Gerald Green, SF <span class="thn-reaction-player-line">23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 8 PTS | -15

Really, this is more or less what you want from Gerald…perhaps with a little more explosiveness.

Ian Mahinmi, C 21 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 4 PTS | -10

Played well until the fourth quarter, when he oddly got 5 shots (making only 1). Mostly, that’s the sign of a good team (OKC) forcing shots to the guy they want taking them, but strange that he played 8 4th-quarter minutes to Roy-with-only-two-fouls 4.

D.J. Augustin, PG 9 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -11

Had perhaps his best two plays of the season on his scoring drives. Wasn’t a disaster. Big step up, but not something I’m counting on.

Topics: Game Recap

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  • NLP

    Bad when we get West to shoot 60+ percent as well as the bench to shoot 50% even with Ian’s terrible second half and only turn it over 7 times but still get beat by 10 plus. We rolled with the Thunder for a half but while they could keep up the scoring we couldn’t getting just 37 points in the second half after picking up 34 in the second quarter alone.

    West is older coming off injury and last year was the first year he has ever played in every game in a season and it was just 66 games and it was first time he played less than 30 a game as a starter. PG is young and has never had to grind this much time out over 82 games and Hill is older but much like PG hasn’t had to carry the load this much. These 3 played between 39:21-38:25 in a losing effort. I just can’t see any way these guys will have anything left for the playoffs where PT expands even if the hold up over 82 games. We need all 3 on the floor but there may come a point where we need to sacrifice some now for the big picture.

    That Block on Big Roy was sick as they come.

    Last two games we have got to the line just 31 times and made only 22 of them and some of those are T’s and illegal defense calls. A major part of that is the loss of Tyler’s PT along with no Danny who finished 1st and 2nd on the team last year by 39 FT over 3rd place. Even with Tyler massive reduction in PT and shots West just passed him for the team lead in FTA this year tonight now up by 2 despite 377 more MP.

    Over the last 10 quarters after his big 10-5 half Tyler has just 2 shots and no FTA, if they aren’t going to let him muck it up and do what he’s good at they need to find a way to trade for McRoberts who can pass and doesn’t need to shoot to be effective. I have no problem with letting Ian do that job since we have him locked up but we can’t afford to have two guys who can’t pass at all. Ian now 3 assists to 28 TO and Tyler almost had a couple dimes tonight but he’s still stuck at 4 assists to 17 TO, a fraction of these guys TO are from actually trying to pas but as poor as Tyler’s 103 assist to 179 TO is it looks good compared to Ian’s 26 to 120 career ration.

    • lil-bang

      NLP, remember in the playoffs last season when the Pacers were up 2-1 in the Heat series and then it looked the like the Pacers just ran out of gas. The Pacers players weren’t use to playing 40 minutes a game, but the Heat players were (well Lebron and Dwade) All last season Vogel had this routine timing of when a player came in and out of a game. It was a well thought out plan to keep his player’s healthy and not burnt out before the playoffs (I’m guessing that’s why he did this). Only problem it back fired. The starters weren’t conditioned to play 41 minutes, you could see it in the Magic series. West was is the worst shape, he was passing up shots left and right that he normally wasn’t that last month of the season. West routine move probably uses alot of energy and you could tell he didn’t anything left in the tank.

      I understand why you’re worried they’re playing this much, but I think it is only going to get them better come Playoff time. Also if the Pacers could pull away some games they could rest some starters. (or they can just pull a Spurs, no one would care)

      Main thing is the bench won’t win you championships, so you’re starters have to be prepared for 40 minutes if they need to come playoff time. Last year they weren’t and I hope that is why Vogel is keeping them for so long, then come the last month once a playoff spot is locked up he pulls back the starters PT and lets them rest a bit. The Pacers going somewhere in the playoffs is going to come down to what that starting 5 does.

      All that being said I could easily see Vogel just playing the starters this much because Danny is out and he is just trying to use them to fill up some of his minutes since no one is really giving him anything off the bench, but let’s hope that isn’t the only reason.

      Right now Hibbert is the only starter not averaging 5 more minutes a game then they did in 2011-2012. He is slightly less.

      • Jack Wright

        i’d rather watch our starters than the spurs’ anyday

  • NLP

    Is this the first time anyone has ever been graded an F with no TO and the bench best +/- while shooting 100%? Seriously Ian gets a C to Tyler’s F while Ian had 2 more PTS on 6 more shots with 1 more REB and 1 more TO and the same block total in 11:54 more playing tme.

    • Jack Wright

      tyler deserves that grade cuz hes a pathetic bball player

      • NLP

        He would be our best bench player if we didn’t have to play West so much killing his PT. He’s 8th on the team in FGA per game just .1 ahead of Ian and .2 DJ and .2 PER36 in front of Lance for last on the team. Dude has taken 2 shots the last 10 quarters so I’m not sure what he could do with that little usage.

        Its not magic that when he was getting more burn early in the year he was posting good grades about every game and since he’s seen his PT dip and his shots fall so did his grades.

        5 times this year he’s got over 5 shots and is getting 11.8 PPG in those games shooting 46%, and has picked up 5.6 boards a game in those 5, Also in those games he gets to the line 6.4 times a game. Players need to time and ball to be successful and he isn’t getting either here of late.

        In 7 games where he plays under 14 MP he’s averaging 1.86 PPG and RPG on 23.5% from the field getting to the line 1 time a game and in the other 14 he’s got some run at 7.93 PPG and 5.43 RPG while shooting just under 18% better and getting to the line 5.29 times a game.

        He’s a flawed player but all of our bench players are as well, but with us needing West so bad it murders Tyler’s usage and everything he does positive comes from usage. Tyler and West were the only two guys who had above average PERs before the west coast trip. But since then Tyler has played one game over 14 MP went 10-5.

  • Sam

    Why wasn’t Stephenson playing more in the 4th? He had 10 points in the 1st half. We need some bench players like the Thunder. Kevin Martin had 22 in the 1st half! Are you kidding? Can you imagine anybody on the Pacers bench getting that many? Hell they don’t even come close to that in a game! We have NO explosiveness on the bench. It seemed like when the starters were in we had the lead or kept it close but as soon as the bench came in we went down by 10.

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

    OKC took a lot of free throws tonight–their ability to get to the line really hurt. Lance continues to impress with his attitude and decision making. Hill and George missed a few open looks–Roy had a few nice defensive plays, once nice post move, and a few right place-right time baskets, but was overall ineffective. Still, I like what I’ve seen in the past 5-6 games overall. Mahinmi might push Roy for minutes in games when the Pacers play explosive teams…

    • lil-bang

      Pacers have looked better the 5-6, they are getting better and if they continue to do that throughout the season consistently, and stay in the hunt of the Central Division title, that’s all that matters.

  • http://twitter.com/LazyPen LES

    at this point why not show the rookies some playing time the bench is FLOUNDERING out there its pathetic

    • NLP

      Those guys are going to suck too! Our Bench can’t pass and when 3 of them are playing under 10 a night anymore so they have no shot of doing anything special unless Ian doesn’t miss a shot or Tyler says eff and shoots a ton in a short time and makes a good clip like when he got 10 in the first half the other day vs Portland before shooting it 2 times in the 10 quarters since.

      Tyler has shown he can score when given shots as he has picked up more than 5 shots 5 times and is getting 11.8 in those games shooting 46% despite a 1-for-7 game but he doesn’t get to shoot too often anymore with West playing so much. Its trend he’s held over his career as he’s just 74-for-226 32.74% when getting 5 or less shots but that jumps to 518-for-1176 44.05% with 6 or more and when he was a starter she shot 49.8% in 30 games taking 10.8 shots a game.

      Most everyone needs to the ball to be truly effective unless you play lock down defense or are a great rebounded or can do a bit over everything and we don’t have any of those on our second unit. The games when Tyler, Ian, Green, Young and DJ has been good they have had the ball a ton getting shots and or getting to the line games when people thing the blow it almost always when they get low usage.

      Its the main reason why Ian and Tyler make a poor team, neither can pass but need the ball a ton to get to the line or score and why I think getting back McBob back off the end of Orlando’s bench makes us better despite not being much of a fan of his. He doesn’t shoot much and is a good passing big who will fight for a board as well so he fits here. Plus since he has some ups he and Green may open up lobs for each other and they could help DJ, I’m sure they would have no problem dumping Josh since he doesn’t play much but they may not want to take on Tyler money but I’m sure some team could get in on a 3-way deal sending something back to Orlando.

    • lil-bang

      I would like to see Orlando and Miles, but I don’t think it’s time yet to give up on Green, Young, or DJ yet…but if see a few more wide open missed shots from Green or Young late in a game again and for some reason Stephenson is not being played during crunch time like we have seen lately, why not try Orlando? Kids suppose to be a shooter, and that’s all the need, someone to hit an open looked created by West, Hill, Hibbert, or PG getting Double teamed.

  • Rex

    Pacers need to take advantage of this schedule for the rest of this month..right now they are 10-11 and could very easily be a couple games above .500 by the end of the month if they play like they have these last few games.

    • Rex

      I also see February as the other key month(9 home games, 2 road games) for the Pacers this season and Danny Granger should also hopefully be coming back at the beginning of Feb.

    • lil-bang

      Yeah: vs Cleveland, vs Philly, @ Detroit, @ Milwaukee, vs Utah, @ New Orleans, vs Chicago, vs Phoenix, @ Atlanta, vs Memphis…one game against each division team, just keeping winning those ones plus the ones they should win and they will be sitting fine.

  • NLP

    Its no wonder we ran out of gas late since we used 4 guys for the whole 4th, and West got 2:05 of rest in second half while PG and Hill got just 1:49. KD played a lot for them going 21:10 but Ibaka and Westbrook played just 17:52 each and they got next to nothing from their bench in the second half with 7 points and 2 boards in 38:27 of total play and only 2 of those bench points came from Marin.

    In the 4th quarter Ian was tied for the team lead in FGa with PG in 3:48 less time, they both finished 1-for-5, West took just 2 shots over 12
    along with no FT. Our max center was given just 1 shot in the 4th in his brief time, I hate that idea regardless of how poor he’s playing.

    We won the 2nd quarter 34-32 and it was the only quarter won and the Bench played its most PT playing 26:05 of 60, Oddly enough Lance played 7:50 leading the team in time with Tyler going 7:30 for second place and West was 9th on the team and the offense was spread over 9 guys with nobody taking a ton of shots.

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

    I’m unable to watch most games as I don’t live in Indy.
    Is Vogel still playing most of the bench as a block? If so I think that’s a huge problem for the overall productivity of the bench. A mix of starters and reserves at any given time takes a lot of pressure off the bench guys. I imagine not having Danny is making that hard to do but putting 5 guys with narrow offensive skills out at the same time makes the team too easy to guard.

    • lil-bang

      I don’t have an exact time for each game I can give you, but if you just look at the player’s PT, you should see the starters are averaging about 5 more minutes a game a piece, and by the looks of it, it is because he is making the transition from starters to bench alot longer. Still at some point usually late first quarter, early 2nd. Then late 3rd quarter, early 4th he has all the bench players at once out there. He just has alot shorter leash on all the bench players this year compared to last year. But not sure if that’s a strategy because Danny is out, or if that’s the new strategy in general regardless. I agree with you, so let’s hope its for it’s for the latter.

    • Jack Wright

      i live in vegas and am able to watch em all. http://www.thefirstrow.eu/sport/basketball.html click the game u want, X out of the ads, and there u go

  • Adam Cox

    I dont care what anyone says. DJ Agustin is the absolute best at dribbling the ball through his legs. The ball movement is crisp, and appears to just snap to his other hand.

    • Jack Wright

      excellent point. boy can flat out dribble between his legs. not sure if vogel weighed that factor carefully enough when he decided to demote him….smh

  • Rex

    Mike Wells ‏@MikeWellsNBA

    Ben Hansbrough in at backup PG, Augustin demoted to 3rd PG

    YEAH!!!!!!!

    • NLP

      Maybe we can see one of those classic Hansbrough fights they always talk about if Ben never wants to pass to Tyler on a post up like everyone else on the roster but Lance.

  • Jack Wright

    not a bad loss at all. we played well….okc just couldnt freakin miss. they played better than usual, and we still gave em a game

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