Post-Game Grades: Pacers Try Hard to Lose then Try to Win for a Few Minutes and Accomplish the Former

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 This was 46 minutes of sloppy offense and wet-cardboard defense from the Pacers. It was a very strange game overall. The Pacers actually shot really well, but couldn’t hold onto the ball. At one point in the third quarter, the Jazz had 16 steals to only 15 rebounds. That’s not normal. And on the other end, the best defensive team in the NBA just got man-handled by Utah in the paint and allowed a ton of easy buckets.

It’s hard to put the blame on any one person for such a strange funk that just seemed to pervade the entire fabric of the team. What is certain, however, is that the Pacers got out-worked and the Pacers got worked.

Still, they somehow managed to make a game of this late. Paul George hit a three, David West hit a jumper, George Hill made a layup, and Indiana held Utah to just one point over the final 2:30 of regulation.

The Jazz had the ball, up two, with little time left. It seemed as if the Pacers’ comeback would come up short. Then Hill stole the ball, Indiana ran the same play the used to beat Memphis to tie the game (Paul George got fouled amid chaos after Utah shut off Hill’s drive) and then West made a huge steal of his own, taking the ball directly away from Gordon Hayward.

Overtime.

I won’t bother to recount all the happenings. Mainly, the Pacers got destroyed in the half court and when they did stop the Jazz, the couldn’t finish the possession with a rebound. Earl Watson, in particular, was the first one to the ball — if not the last. Again, however, Paul George hit a big three, cutting a six-point Utah lead to three with thirty seconds left.

The patient was on life support, but not dead.

But the Jazz made a free throw to go up four so … good try, good effort.

BUT WAIT … Hill rushed down the court and stuck a long three with two seconds left. It seemed meaningless. The Jazz merely needed to inbound the ball and the game was all but over. Maybe the Pacers get a very quick foul and the Jazz only hit one, which would have given them a chance to hit one more three with like a second left to send it to overtime.

But as Utah inbounded the ball, it hit the side/bottom/back of the backboard.

In my mind, that’s out of bounds. I saw this happen in JV basketball several times and it was always hilarious. I remember learning at a young age that you ALWAYS move over to the side of the lane before throwing the pass to avoid this exact scenario. Nobody wants to be laughed at so I was vigilant about it.

Apparently, however, the refs in this game deemed that the ball hit the side of the backboard, which, in their view at the time, means it was not a violation. There are rules about it here. Section III (f) seems pretty clear that it should have been a violation, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend I know what I’m talking about. This rule book is pretty big and there may be some Jerome James Corollary for all I know. The guys on NBA TV did, eventually, decide that the refs got it right. Mike Fratello even demonstrated what happened.

I’m not convinced and will continue to think it probably should have been the Pacers ball underneath their own hoop, down by two points with 2.2 seconds left.

Whatever though. It’s a small thing really, and more an interesting quirk of the rule book than any reason that the Pacers lost the game. They were a million-to-one shot to even get the ball back and to expect some sort of arbitrary rule to bail you out for 53 minutes of mediocre-at-best play is silly.

I’m a 49ers fan and I remember in 2003 when they beat the Giants in the playoffs. San Francisco was down by 24 in the third quarter and proceeded to score three unanswered touchdowns (including two two-point conversions) and a field goal to take a one-point lead. Terrell Owns caught one of the touchdowns and two of the two-points. He was just unstoppable throughout the flurry of 49ers scoring drives as they again and again targeted Jason Sehorn, whose name I will not even spell check.

Then, after all this ass-kickery, the Giants wound up with a last-ditch chance at a field goal to win. They bounced the snap. I forget exactly what went down but someone came up with the ball and tried to throw a pass to, I think, the center who botched the play to begin with. One of the San Francisco special teams guys, I think, knocked down the receiver before the ball got there. Giants fans were up in arms about it being pass interference. They thought there should be a penalty and they would get to kick it over.

Again, it’s late and it was 10 years ago so I forget exactly how everything happened. I think it was an illegal man downfield anyway, but I hear a ton of whining about the supposed non-call on the pass interference.

Seriously? You play like that for the whole last 20 minutes, getting out-scored by 25 points in what was the second-largest playoff comeback in NFL history and that’s what you take issue with?

OK.

But instead, maybe just admit you got your ass kicked and move on with your day.

Pacers Jazz

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 42 MIN | 9-15 FG | 6-8 FT | 7 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 3 BLK | 4 TO | 24 PTS | -8 

Has been playing very good defense and stole the ball from Gordon Hayward on the last meaningful play of regulation. Jazz owned the interior all night though.

Paul George, SF 48 MIN | 8-17 FG | 4-4 FT | 5 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 6 TO | 23 PTS | +1 

On the one hand, hit a three and clutch free throws that led to overtime. On the other, had 4 turnovers in the first quarter and fumbled the ball before getting up a shot that could have tied it in OT.

Roy Hibbert, C 35 MIN | 6-11 FG | 2-2 FT | 12 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 14 PTS | -2 

Will let him say it, as Pacers beat writer Mike Wells recounted on Twitter. “Hibbert took some blame, too: ‘I got my ass kicked in the post tonight. That usually doesn’t happen like that.'” Al Jeff ate his lunch over and over again. Best stat line in awhile though.

George Hill, PG 46 MIN | 10-16 FG | 0-1 FT | 9 REB | 8 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | -3 

Nice line. Only starter not coughing the ball up.

Lance Stephenson, SG 24 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 0 PTS | -7 

I actually saw him play a few really nice defensive possessions early, but he looked really bad most of the time. You can’t pass my class with 0 points and 4 turnovers.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 12 MIN | 4-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | +3 

Came in and provided a huge spark in the fourth. Shot 3-for-4 and scored 6 pts during 6 minutes in the fourth.

Jeff Pendergraph, PF 5 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -5 

Is apparently a small forward now. Adjust your watches accordingly.

Ian Mahinmi, C 18 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -1 

OK.

D.J. Augustin, PG 30 MIN | 4-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | +5 

Took a really bad three late and got Earl Watsonned.

Orlando Johnson, SG 7 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3 

Right on.

Frank Vogel 

I still don’t know what the rule is definitively but mostly I was just surprised he didn’t get tossed. Better man than I (which was patently obvious years ago). Went to the exact same play on the Pacers’ final play as he did in Memphis. Two for two now in terms of getting an Indy player to the line.

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