The Pacers started the game off looking like they were ready to end the two-game losing streak, going up 20-8 with 6 minutes left in the first quarter. Then the Pacers got outscored 76-44 over the next 30 minutes while shooting 30.4% and allowing the Cavs to shoot 59.6%.
It got so bad that I was starting to think that the Pacers might not even hold on to the third seed. The way they were playing, I thought they’d lose on Friday to the Nets, lose to the Knicks on Sunday, lose to the Celtics on Tuesday and maybe beat the Sixers, but already be locked into the fourth seed.
Then, towards the end of the third quarter, Frank Vogel got himself ejected from the game to try and inspire his team. It didn’t look like it was working going into the fourth quarter. The Pacers were playing as bad as they had all game long.
Then, all of the sudden, the Pacers started scoring some points. Then they started scoring some more points. Then they started getting a lot of defensive stops. Before you know it, Indiana went on a 17-0 run and cut a 20-point deficit down to 2.
The comeback was led by George Hill (the guy that always stops the bleeding) and great defense. Over the final 8 and a half minutes of the game the Pacers outscored the Cavs 29-6, on a 2-for-15 shooting performance from Uncle Drew & Co.
Kyrie Irving is one of the best fourth-quarter players in the NBA. Last year, for example, he led the league in clutch points per game (this year he ranks third). So it was good to see a Pacers team that has struggled recently in clutch situations force Irving into some pretty bad plays.
He got trapped right past half court with 50 seconds left and threw a lob which Lance Stephenson easily picked off and got to George Hill for the and one. And Jeff Pendergraph may have won the game when he slid over to thwart an Irving drive, drawing a charge that stood up to additional official scrutiny as the refs went to the monitors to ensure that Pendergraph’s foot was outside of the restricted area.
This was a nice win, but hopefully the Pacers can turn it into something and play some full games against the Nets, Knicks and Celtics. The Knicks, which dominated the Wizards tonight, might already have the second seed locked up by the time the teams meet Sunday, but a Pacers win against them would send a good message going into the playoffs.
|David West, PF 33 MIN | 4-7 FG | 7-9 FT | 9 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +7 |
Apparently still has the hops for an oop. Didn’t score too much late but had a nice block on Tristan Thompson and played good defense in general down the stretch.
|Paul George, SF 33 MIN | 4-12 FG | 4-6 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +3 |
Played horrendous the first 3 quarters, thought he was playing his way out of the discussion of most improved. But he hit some big shots late, especially that 3 with 30 secs left.
|Roy Hibbert, C 23 MIN | 4-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | 0 |
Got off to another good start but didn’t get a lot of playing time late because of Pendy’s effectiveness. Also jumped on Pendy’s back after the game.
|George Hill, PG 38 MIN | 9-15 FG | 8-9 FT | 2 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 27 PTS | +14 |
|Lance Stephenson, SG 33 MIN | 3-7 FG | 7-8 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +7 |
Can we get Mike Woodson to do whatever he did to JR Smith on Lance? Imagine a consistent Lance.
|Tyler Hansbrough, PF 17 MIN | 4-8 FG | 4-8 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -8 |
Typical Tyler game. Couldn’t make many of his free throws, though.
|Jeff Pendergraph, PF 8 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 1 PTS | +23 |
Drew the charge making Uncle Drew look like a young blood. Played top-notch defense for the entire fourth.
|Sam Young, SF 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +6 |
Got an offensive rebound which led to the DJ 3.
|Gerald Green, SF 9 MIN | 1-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -4 |
|Ian Mahinmi, C 16 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-4 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -12 |
Had some nice offensive rebounds, didn’t make his free throws. (Also is it illegal for NBA players to wear wide receiver’s gloves with Stick em’?)
|D.J. Augustin, PG 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | 0 |
Made a 2 then a 3 in the 4th which started the comeback. Was bad earlier in the game.
|Orlando Johnson, SG 9 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -11He played?|
|Frank Vogel |
His ejection, I guess, sparked the comeback. At least put Brian Shaw in position to play Jeff Pendergraph, whose pick-and-roll defense in the fourth was critical.