Post-Game Grades: But, Seriously, Pacers Rally to Beat Hornets

I wanted to try really hard to bail on this game, but the truth of the matter is that there was nothing else to do, and I was too lazy to try really hard. Despite my first version of these grades, I ended up watching the whole game, which really came down to the Pacers showing up and being absolutely dominant for one quarter, then making plays down the stretch.

There were two key junctures of Indiana’s 81-75 victory. First was the third quarter, where the Pacers outscored New Orleans 24-7, while holding the Hornets to 35 points per 100. It allowed the Blue-and-Gold to completely erase a 17-point halftime deficit, despite missing five of their eight free throw attempts.

The second came over the final 3:40, where Indiana finished the game on a 16-5 run. Lance Stephenson chipped in 4 points – including a crucial put back of a Paul George miss and a layup set up beautifully by George Hill. Hill himself has become the kind of player that is capable of making big contributions, even when he was struggling. The mark of a valuable player.

And then, of course, was David West. West scored eight of the Pacers’ final 16 points, including a classic mid-range fadeaway to give Indy a 79-75 lead with under 15 seconds left. By the time, West and the Pacers were done, they were four games over .500, only percentage points behind Chicago for the Central Division lead.

While that’s an articulate statement on the Pacers’ progress in December, so are the last two games. In both, there became a point where it was obvious that the Pacers were just the better team. New Orleans did a better job of hanging around, but once the game was tied again, it was Indy’s game to win or lose.

And that is nice progress, indeed.

So, now…give me a hard time for the first grades.

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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 34 MIN | 11-20 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 25 PTS | +14

Anthony Davis is going to be an excellent basketball player, but for now, he just could not handle West. Twenty second half points, including 8 in the Pacers’ 16-5 run to close out the game.

Paul George, SF 38 MIN | 6-15 FG | 4-5 FT | 12 REB | 4 AST | 17 PTS | +7

Struggled with first, foul trouble in the second half, then clearly tired legs late, but was only Pacer who showed up before half time.

Roy Hibbert, C 28 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-2 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 6 PTS | +5

Got 5 blocks, but pretty badly outplayed by his opposite – Robin Lopez. Still, more good than bad.

George Hill, PG 39 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 12 PTS | +8

First time in something like 8 games where he was held to less than 15 points, but delivered late with key buckets and a couple key assists.

Lance Stephenson, SG 34 MIN | 5-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 10 PTS | +14

He’s established himself as a solid 5th starter. Made a huge put back play late, and Vogel trusted him in the 2-4 PnR that led to West’s game-sealing bucket.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 14 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS | -8

No shoving matches tonight, so hard to notice him.

Sam Young, SF 21 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -7

He played, reportedly.

Ian Mahinmi, C 20 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-1 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 6 PTS | +1

Made a couple of defensive mistakes, sequentially, in the first half, but made up for it in the second with back-to-back blocks.

D.J. Augustin, PG 7 MIN | 0-3 FG | 1-2 FT | 0 REB | 3 AST | 1 PTS | +2

The backup point guard situation for the Pacers is dire.

Ben Hansbrough, PG 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS | -6

Really, really dire.

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