Post-Game Grades: Pacers Out-Score Dubs

This makes five straight wins for the Pacers and five straight wins by double digits. With two 31-point quarters tonight, it also looks like this resurgent (or, I guess, more accurately and less Englishly “surgent”) offense might just be sustainable. The team shot 48.8%, and George Hill and David West hardly missed.

The game was closer than the final score may suggest — it really was a game of runs in a non-cliché sense — and it looked like it could have gone either way for most of it. But the Pacers got it going when it mattered most and bullied the Dubs out of the building — in more ways than one.

The real story of the game may be the little shoving match the two teams got into (or perhaps the other-worldly shooting performance of the world’s best shooter, Steph Curry). That is fun to talk about in a league in which no teams actually fight, but the bigger deal tonight is the Pacers further confirming that they might just be beastly on both ends of the court now.

As the season as progressed and the Knicks have fallen off, it has been chic to say that the Pacers are the biggest threat to Miami in the East. That is obviously an accurate assessment. But it has still largely been a token gesture handed out to a team that has an excellent defense.

But now? Well, I’m not ready to say they are a legit legit threat yet — LeBron is just too good — but if they can continue to beat up on good teams like Golden State and New York while dismantling dregs like Detroit and Charlotte, well, maybe, just maybe, this team can give a Miami team with a healthy Bosh a real scare.

Pacers Dubs

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 36 MIN | 12-16 FG | 4-4 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 28 PTS | +18 

Not an All-Star.

Paul George, SF 42 MIN | 9-17 FG | 1-3 FT | 11 REB | 4 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +21 

He was getting steals by accident and deflecting balls in passing lanes by accident while tripping off balance. He also had some nice finishes down low that he couldn’t have converted as recently as the last time these two teams played.

Roy Hibbert, C 28 MIN | 4-8 FG | 5-6 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 5 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTS | +19 

Was on pace for a double-double before getting tossed for, ironically, tossing the rag doll impersonating Steph Curry off of him.

George Hill, PG 38 MIN | 9-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 23 PTS | +15 

Make a few more shots why don’t you? Jeez. For a while, it looked, had Hill and Steph played H.O.R.S.E., it wouldn’t have ended until tomorrow.

Lance Stephenson, SG 30 MIN | 4-15 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +11 

Had a pretty sweet pass underneath but also forced a few stepback jumpers.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 12 MIN | 0-3 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -7 

Said, in an Fox Indiana halftime piece, that Denzel should play him in a movie about his life. Then, after being told that George Hill said Napoleon Dynamite should play Tyler, he said he didn’t know that Hill was “a comedic.”

Danny Granger, SF 19 MIN | 1-7 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | 0 

Still got a waaaays to go. His first shot hit nothing but backboard while the second one failed to draw iron. Still, he knocked down one nice jumper and got to the line after he realized he couldn’t shoot.

Ian Mahinmi, C 20 MIN | 2-4 FG | 3-6 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | -8 

Well done.

D.J. Augustin, PG 10 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -4 

Bench seemed to play very poorly when Hill sat, but Augustin was only a -4, so perhaps my impressions are inaccurate.

Orlando Johnson, SG 6 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -10 

Minutes won’t be coming much anymore outside of blowouts.

Tags: Game Recap

  • NLP

    Screw two weeks, we need Danny back as a starter ASAP so the bench can become a unit again rather than the Danny show and they hopefully can find some chemistry before the playoffs once Lance joins them. But that shouldn’t be too hard because Lance will actually make passes to the other 4 guys out there with him.

    The last two games since Danny has returned they have been absolutely atrocious with the saving grace being Ian getting more time with the starters due to Roy’s issues staying on the floor to help the numbers look a bit better also the group getting some extra shots off in the blowout situation helped keep them happy.

    Tonight on the other hand was extra rough with Tyler getting 3 shots all jumpers with two being those godawful 19 footers and DJ and OJ not getting off anything at all. The starters can cover Danny going 2-for-17 and shooting a ton the bench with very limited touches can’t do it at all.

    So with that said expect the bench to cost us several games over the next several weeks after getting turned upside down. Its just like last year as soon as they start to show signs of playing well together they get a massive shakeup and have to start back over right before the playoffs, last year they didn’t come back from it lets hope Lance can get the ball to everyone like Barbosa couldn’t and they can bounce back if not we can expect a replay of last year again.

    • Bradley Smith II

      Optimism! Hooray!

      • NLP

        I have my eyes on a bigger prize than these meaningless games, we have a legit shot at a ring and a limited window to get it in before money becomes an issue killing off our depth and the Bench just like last year is going to make or break us. Its not the best time of the year to still be searching for roles and a overall identity.

        • Jack Wright

          Every game is important right now, because we need to lock up that 2 seed. I think we’ll do it, but it’s important if we wanna get the chance to crack the Heat in the ECF. But you’re exactly right that we have a limited window to get the ring, so let’s do it now. I also wanna see Lance play with the bench as soon as possible. If he can get that unit to push the tempo and get out in transition, they might actually be able to put points on the board. If they become an effective and semi-reliable bench, then look out, because our 1st unit is right up there with the best of the best. But you’re right, we need to figure that out as soon as possible.

        • Josh Boeke

          Honest question: What makes you say we have a limited window?

          If anything it seems like we are just now seeing that window open with Paul George blossoming into a star and our defense and offense finally forming their respective identities. February was one of the most dominant months of Pacers basketball I can personally remember (if not for 2 overtime losses, both of which probably should have been won in regulation, everybody would be talking about Indiana’s perfect 11-0 February and sudden dominance).

          It seems to me that money won’t really be an issue for awhile, in fact it may be improving. The only key player not under contract next season is David West and given his age I would expect the Pacers could lock him up for another 2-3 years for about the same $10M/yr he’s being paid now. He took less money to play here originally, I don’t see him leaving, he’s the leader of the team.

          The Pacers have proven they can win, and even dominate, without Granger, who is due $14M next season before becoming a free agent. Assuming they keep him around beyond next year, I’d have to assume he gets a major cut in pay (which they then use to pay Paul George). If they don’t keep him around then we could see an elite, or 2nd tier, level (preferably young) SG brought in, which would probably compliment the current lineup better than Granger does now anyway.

          Indianapolis may not be a destination city but winning does have a way of bringing players to town. The Heat may be the gold standard in the East for the time being but how long can Wade maintain this level? 2 more years? 3? He’s already 31 and has a history of injuries. Paul George and Lance Stephenson are 22, Roy and Hill are both 26. Our nucleus is still very young and getting better. We can already compete with Miami now, in 2 or 3 years we may very well be the ones Miami is trying to get past and not vice versa.

          I’m not sure what “depth” you’re afraid we are going to lose (we have one of the least productive benches in the league), but Mahinmi (probably our best bench player) is locked up for another 4 years at a very reasonable $4M per, and pretty much everyone else is up-gradable or expendable; Tyler is due $4M next year, I think we could improve that position, and DJ will be a free agent. We could probably find a better backup pg for $3.5M as well, though he hasn’t been bad lately and could probably be resigned.

          Gerald Green is a failed experiment at this point and unfortunately got a 4 year deal, but at $3.5M per season isn’t a crippling amount of money by any stretch. There’s always the chance he figures it out and becomes the player the Pacers thought they were getting.

          I know that’s been a bit of a novel but I just don’t think I agree with your assessment that the window is somehow brief, with this young group led by Paul George we could be looking at a solid decade of 55+ win seasons.

          • NLP

            The money is going to get tight quick needing to resign West who will also start to decline due to age in near future and PG will be due a massive new deal and Lance is about to get a nice raise as well.

            All that money you have us spending on bringing in better bench guys isn’t there, especially if we have to give West a raise. Half of that 6.5M we spent on Tyler and DJ this year will get taken up by current players contracts going up not even factoring West’s potential raise who should be in high demand or the 2013 draft picks.

          • Josh Boeke

            I guess I just disagree with a couple of your assumptions. What makes you think West is going to get a raise? He will be 33 years old when the season starts next year and at $10M a year is already making a pretty high salary for his age, keeping it the same or maybe a slight bump (1 or 2 mill) isn’t unreasonable, and he’s already taken less money to play here, I cannot see that changing given the direction the team is going.

            Lance has been playing very well for about 2 months and he’s really growing into the player that Bird said he could be, but he hasn’t played so amazingly well that he will require a major contract.

            The financial situation doesn’t seem that dire to me, Hibbert’s bloated contract not withstanding. Everybody making money should be making money, we don’t have a Jamaal Tinsley type contract on the books and Granger’s $14M coming off will open up a lot of options.

          • NLP

            West took less money to come here and rehab his value, he’s done that greatly so he will be in great demand this summer. When a player has a good market for him some team will go crazy on an offer in hops of landing him. Every dollar counts and even the slight bump of 1 or 2 million take away from our free money even more.

            Lance will get a nice bump in pay regardless since he’s making so little now and being a UFA after next year at a young age it will open the door for one of the other teams to throw some nice money his way. When Danny is gone it will hurt the overall talent level of the team, and that money will basically go to keep PG and maybe have some left early to go towards keeping Lance.

            We are a very good team and yet we are in bottom 5 of attendance so there is no way on earth we get into the Tax area so the window to truly win a title isn’t as wide as people think. We have this year and maybe next before West’s age could start to show if we keep him and we have a cheap bench made up of cheaper picks and scrubs.

          • Josh Boeke

            I suppose ultimately any discussion of this sort has 100 variables that will be constantly shifting and changing in the next few years (injuries, players being cut or traded, role players becoming starters, the decline of starters to role players, the behavior of other teams, the mindset of free agents, the ability of Donnie Walsh to make good decisions, etc. etc) but based on just what we know about the roster as it currently exists I guess I don’t agree with you that we have a 1, maybe 2 year window (that to me is VERY pessimistic).

            You say West took less money to “rehab his value” but what would have prevented him from rehabbing his value while also making more money? I’m not sure I understand the connection. He claimed, and I suppose you could argue he was lying, that he came here because he wanted to be a part of a team that would really need him and he saw the youth and potential of the Pacers as very appealing. Why would he want to jump ship right when that potential seems to be coming to fruition?

            His numbers are not otherworldly (25th in scoring, 32nd in rebounds, and 35th in FG%), certainly not bad by any stretch but I don’t think they will warrant anything approaching a max contract offer to a 33 year old PF with knee issues, and his value to the Pacers is much higher than it would be to another team. You’re arguing on the one hand that West only has maybe 1 more season before his age starts to show, while on the other saying he will get big money offers in free agency, those ideas seem in opposition to me.

            Even assuming West leaves or is ineffective in 2 years, the money we’d pay him would then go to someone else, who, presumably, would be equally as good (if not better and younger). As long as the core group of players is young the rest can be tinkered with and still maintain a high standard of play.

            I also don’t accept your assertion that our low attendance means we won’t spend money. Attendance isn’t what makes a team profitable, though it certainly helps. Forbes published the numbers on last year and the Pacers made roughly $11 million in profit even with attendance numbers that were lower than they are this season. Attendance is steadily improving, and I believe will continue to do so as the national media continues to cover the “biggest threat to the Heat in the East” (the Clippers game was a sellout and I anticipate that the nationally televised Bulls game will be as well on Sunday night). TV is the future (and some would say present) of sports revenue as sporting events are quickly becoming the last bastion of live television viewing. The Pacers TV numbers have improved at a much faster rate than their attendance, which is very encouraging. Another deep playoff run will cement the Pacers in the national consciousnesses and result in many more nationally televised games going forward and thus much more money for the team.

            Even when the Pacers were losing money they spent above the salary cap, they were up against the luxury tax in 2009 and are so again this season (salary cap is $58 million, luxury tax is $70, Pacers current roster is $69 million). Sure, they won’t be spending $100 million dollars the way the Lakers are this season, but they’ll spend money. The new CBA is also set up to help smaller market teams make money through profit sharing, though I don’t know the details of that (regardless, it’s something).

            Ultimately we are probably both going to be wrong in a number of ways, predicting the future in sports is a fools game, but I just don’t really see the “window” being all that small. This team has been smartly constructed and the age of many of the key players suggests they aren’t even yet in the prime of their careers (LeBron is having a career year at 28). We’ve gotten better every year since 2009 and I don’t personally see that changing any time soon; Vogel seems to know what he’s doing as a coach, regardless of our talent, hard defense is effort, and effort is coaching.

    • lil-bang

      I say give Danny another week (Clippers, Toronto, and atleast the Bulls game) and hopefully he will be somewhat up to speed. But I can’t wait for Danny to start just for the fact that it is going to cause matchup nightmares for offenses. Curry was killing last night, but I think if PG was slipped over there it would have been alot different. Besides Danny might get better open looks if he is on the starting squad.

  • Timmy

    A double-double with a +21 gets a “B”?? Hey, Teach, that’s some tough grading. What’s a guy have to do to get an “A”?

    • Philip Tarrant

      PG24 has set the bar pretty high for himself.

  • Petey’s Head

    I like Orlando Johnson, I hope he continues to play as hard as he is right now.

  • lil-bang

    It seemed like Roy was on the floor(like on the ground) more than normal this game. One time I recall him just trying to put an easy putback in from someone elses’s miss and he end up being on the floor with no call. Normally he atleast has to be moving around to trip over his own feet. He wasn’t having a bad night so something Lee was doing had to put him over the edge. Let’s hope he isn’t suspended long, but we all know what happens when decisions involving the Pacers are put into Stern’s hands.

    • Josh Boeke

      I’m optimistic. Roy is well known as one of the “nice guys” in the NBA. His nice guy demeanor certainly drives some of us Pacers’ fans crazy who would like to see him develop a bit of a mean streak, he plays really soft on offense far too often (West pounds inside and demands the ball, which is what Roy should be doing), but it has to mean something when considering a suspension, he’s never been in trouble on, or off, the court as far as I can remember.

      Also, Stern has to feel at least a little guilty for what his over-the-top suspensions ended up doing to our franchise.

  • lil-bang

    I would have given Stephenson a C+ just for running his mouth and getting that jump ball with Lee after the scuffle.

  • Jack Wright

    looking at our next several games, I think we can realistically extend this streak to 10 games. let’s do it

  • Will

    Do Tyler’s teammates like him?

    • Josh Boeke

      I don’t think most people would take a crack at someone publicly like that unless A) they’re an a*hole, or B) they have a relationship with that person that allows for playful jabbing. I’d be willing to wager a decent amount of money that we are looking at the latter in this case, I don’t see Hill taking shots at Tyler for no reason.

      • Will

        I didn’t think so either. I feel they mess with him because he ‘seems’ like a stiff to the general public. I only mention that because of this: remember when AJ Price was making insane, psychotic faces at Tyler on the bench?

        This team preaches chemistry and always note they have one of the best team chemistry’s. With you, totally in jest.