Post-Game Grades: Indiana Wins Easily, Buries New York in a 3-1 Series Hole

It’s 3-1 and the Pacers just embarrassed the Knicks in Indiana. This is a 1990s’ fan dream.

What’s most remarkable about this team — other than its best-in-the-world defense — is that it really doesn’t need to rely on anyone to score. David West has been an shot-making no show the past two games, but it has not mattered. Instead of him getting his normal number of points, George Hill just ups his scoring load and D.J. Augustin has another nice night off the bench.

It stands out even more next to the Knicks, which need Carmelo and J.R. Smith to put up points so badly. When you fill a roster with so many old people and non-scorers, that’s just what happens.

The Pacers, on the other hand, haven’t sacrificed an ability to score to create this defense. Neither Hill nor Roy Hibbert is someone who is going to score a ton of points every night, but Games 3 and 4 have showed that they are more than capable of going on an outburst.

As for the actual break down of Indiana’s Game 4, it was all kicked off by another great start. They were getting buckets right out of the gate and New York was not. It was 11-3 less than five minutes in, and the Knicks were in disarray, missing the same midrange looks they have been settling for all series. The Pacers, when they got a shot up, were successful. But they turned the ball over too much — way too much — to turn this into a laugher early.

Instead, they did something more impressive: Maintain a 10-ish-point lead for the entire game.

They never had any prolonged stretch of total drought, scoring baskets at a fairly regular clip throughout. And they kept New York frustrated and out of sorts. Carmelo Anthony hit a shot every so often that made you think that the Knicks would be roaring back, but it never happened. The slow-and-steady tortoise just maintained the lead.

Hill was huge in the third. This can’t be overstated.

The offense didn’t look great otherwise and the Knicks were getting points more easily. They still shot the same 35% that, I guess, is just the rate that they make shots against this Pacers’ defense now, but they got to the line and took 10 of their 20 shots within five feet of the rim. Meanwhile, Indiana shot no better, hitting just 7-of-19 shots (36.8%). In all, Hill made 5 of his team’s 7 third-quarter field goals while scoring 14 of its 19 points.

Without him — the hometown kid who was committed to getting to the bucket while looking as determined to score as I’ve ever seen him — the Pacers may have surrendered a good portion of that lead. That was a 19-point quarter that at other times in this year, when no individual has stepped up, may have been a 12-point quarter. And, then, if the Knicks had entered the fourth quarter down just 4 instead of down 11, who knows what happens? Maybe Carmelo takes over and these teams are headed back to New York knotted up?

But that didn’t happen.

George Hill didn’t let it.

And in doing so, he became the third “podium game” guy (the person who talks in the post-game press conference) for the Pacers in three wins over New York. (David West had the honors after Game 1 while Roy Hibbert handled the duty after Game 3.)

Entering the final period, the Knicks were shooting 33.3% from the floor. They were 21-of-63, including 3-of-18 (16.7%) from three.

Then the Pacers just grinded out the rest of the win.

Neither team could score efficiently down the stretch, but Indiana did just enough. Chris Copeland, finally getting some minutes, and J.R. Smith put some threes on the board, but Lance Stephenson buried a monster triple himself and broke Carmelo off the dribble for a vicious drive-and-finish.

He did his part on the boards, as well — something the Pacers wings might now be the best in the league at.

In the first 11 minutes of the quarter, the Knicks missed 12 shots. Lance Stephenson (3) and Paul George (4) grabbed 7 of those rebounds. It is stuff like this, in addition to his role in forcing Anthony to shot 0-of-4 in the fourth quarter before fouling out, that makes it really hard to care that George shot 1-for-6 in the fourth with 2 turnovers.

That type of offense is gaudy, but the defense and the boards are his foundation. And they never disappear.

He’s a microcosm of this whole team in that way. Maybe West disappears for a game, but that just means more Hill. When they play well and when they have won in the playoffs, there is never a void when something expected disappears; someone else just fills it that hole.

Tonight, it was D.J. Augustin early, George Hill in the third and a bit of Lance Stephenson late.

A little unexpected offense paired with the suffocating D was more than enough to leave the Knicks on death’s doorstep as they fly home and wonder how in the world they can win three straight games.

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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 35 MIN | 3-9 FG | 4-4 FT | 10 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +5

His shot has been broken the past two games, which is a big problem. Still, he made some nice passes, finding Paul George with a long touchdown and Lance Stephenson under the hoop for a layup (which he missed).

Paul George, SF 45 MIN | 6-19 FG | 5-8 FT | 14 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 5 TO | 18 PTS | +16

He is missing open three-pointers. He was actually 5/10 from inside the arc, with two of those makes coming on slick, determined drives that showed how Swiss cheese New York’s interior defense is. Way more importantly … the defense. Oh the defense on Carmelo. He’s a savant.

Roy Hibbert, C 37 MIN | 2-8 FG | 2-3 FT | 11 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +11

He’s just a terror at the rim. Had 3 blocks and countless other alterations, not to mention a few bad foul calls that were swats. He got Carmelo badly one time — flat-footed — and was whistled for a personal.

George Hill, PG 37 MIN | 9-14 FG | 6-9 FT | 3 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 26 PTS | +5

Hill took over after half time, scoring 13 points in the third and doing his damage in various ways. The team didn’t play all that great in the period, so it was huge that George kept the lead by himself. He was elected the mayor of Indianapolis after the game.

Lance Stephenson, SG 35 MIN | 5-13 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +6

It’s funny that I can look down and say “Lance got 7 boards” without even flinching anymore. There were a lot of Knicks misses, so grain of salt, but he also knocked down his open threes and had one monster drive late by Carmelo that felt like the final nail in New York’s coffin. Then he sprinted down court during the ensuring timeout to jaw and flex at some Knicks fans who had been said something to him earlier.

D.J. Augustin, PG 21 MIN | 2-5 FG | 6-6 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 11 PTS | +9

The moment he entered the game, D.J. broke down Jason Kidd and got to the hoop for a layup. Minutes later, he knocked down a big three that put Indiana up 11. All season, the late first/early second quarter has been when Indiana gave up ground. His timely scoring in this series has helped that time be less of a problem.

Tyler Hansbrough, PF 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +8

No production to speak of, but didn’t seem to be playing poorly. Made a nice move on All Defensive First Team Member Tyson Chandler for a layup.

Sam Young, SF 6 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | 0

Hit a three and finished on a fast break. When Sam Young is scoring, you know it’s not your day.

Ian Mahinmi, C 10 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +1

He played well. Really, really well.

Jeff Pendergraph, PF 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3

Garbage time.

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

Garbage time.

Tags: 2013 Playoffs Game Recap Pacers Vs. Knicks

  • Derek U

    Impressive performance last night. The grades match the performance. I felt Roy had a couple bad calls against him, but when he sat down with 4 fouls in the 3rd, he’d already played 25 minutes and needed some rest. Lets take it to NY for game 5 and seal the deal. I’m ready for this Heat matchup already.

  • evawheel

    Is it just me or does TNT do a bad job of showing replays in a timely manner. I was watching at a bar without sound but I could tell when there was a controversial call and TNT would proceed to show the replay of something that happened 2 plays ago…

    Paul George looked EXHAUSTED by the end of the game. I think he played all but 3 minutes chasing around ‘Melo and JR on defense. On offense he keeps getting good looks from deep and they keep rimming in and out. His offense isn’t the point, though. I just hope he has enough stamina left to help close out the Knicks tomorrow.

    • dwaink

      yeah thought that showed in PG’s missing free throws, wtf is up with Pacers shooting so badly at the free throw line??(concentration and tired I guess, could hear Larry cussing every miss :)) and I wish PG would quit slinging the ball when he passes, he threw one to George Hill for a 3 that was about 15 foot high when it got to him, never knew GH could jump like that :)

  • dwaink

    while this was a great win(make no mistake about it the team took a stellar leap in concentration to force this win) if they had played this game against the Heat the outcome would have been bad. West just looked lost out there…wtf…glad he came to at the end, we have to have him clicking to beat the Heat. Roy’s game has become impressive in his rim savvy defense, it is a joy to watch him play like this! And thk goodness for DJ and Ian, both had great games…if u had told me 2 weeks ago what our bench was going to do to the Knicks…I would have laughed at u…GO PACERS!!!(please limit turnovers huh?)

    • Jack Wright

      I agree. I still don’t think the Knicks have seen the best of us. The last two wins were a lot easier with all of the missed open looks by the Knicks. I’m happy overall with how PG has been playing, and I love the confidence and swag–yes, I’m using that word–he’s been showing. But I’d like him to shoot better from the field more often. Same with George Hill, although last night he went off. Hill really struggles on the road, which could be a big issue moving forward.

      I also agree about West. He was too passive. We’re all used to the West that gets the ball and looks to score (..and usually does). I know much of it last night had to do with Vogel’s strategy of getting the Bigs to kick it out a lot when the double team comes, but he was passing it way, way too much. Shoot the damn ball, West. Take it to the basket. We trust you.

  • Philip Tarrant

    Freaking work makes me miss great bball (gamecast just isn’t the same), but caught all the highlights and breakdown on sportscenter, NBA tv/.com, and, and pretty much everyone is saying how the Pacers just smacked them right in the mouth by being the better team.

    Well, everyone except Woodson who says it’s because they’re just missing shots. From what I’ve seen of the guy, he doesn’t seem like a very stabling influence as a coach (something I believe Vogel is quite good at, especially when we get down on ourselves), and his comments in the media come across more as excuses. Maybe he’s great in the locker room (doubt it), but the guy seems to have little control over his players. They took a commanding lead on BOS and then JR Smith pops someone in the mouth and is out a game. They come out the next game all in black suits and Woodson knows nothing about it. The team was trying to clown on Boston and comes out and gets spanked the next game.

    If our team pulled something like the above, I’d be embarrassed of the team.

  • Ian

    Mahinmi is playing more and more like Hibbert on defense which is key. Dude can’t hold onto the ball but when they don’t take a big defensive step back with Hibbert on the bench, the Pacers just look dominant.
    I thought things might have gone south early (you forgot to mention their horrific rash of turnovers after the 10-3 lead), but thankfully NY missed some open looks. I think the reason DJ is getting more playing time at certain points is he is a lot safer with the ball against pressure (he has a tighter dribble and a better sense of where the pressure is coming from than GH). Notice Hill had 4 TOs in 37 minutes, DJ 0 TOs in 21 minutes. Both PG and Hill need to work on hanging onto the ball. Too often they try to go for the home run pass/no look/behind the back when a just simple one is all that is needed.

    • lil-bang

      I think Ian is just finally getting back in the norm of playing. Vogel was on that last season high of playing Pendergraph so much, Ian wasn’t getting much PT. Then add that Hibbert is playing 35-40 min a game during the postseason, I think Ian was just a little too rested. Ian has been a big boost off the bench on defense all year, guy has one block a game that is a run breaker. Glad they signed him for 4 years.

      GH turnovers will come back down. He actually had the second best TO ratio in the league for point guards in the regular season. This postseason he has went up from an 8.1 to an 11.7. I will admit he doesn’t get some of the passes in like DJ does, but I think that will just come with more time running the point (only his first full year). DJ has the second best TO ratio in the playoffs for Point guards right now at a 5.6….he was an 11.8 in the regular season. Way to step it up DJ. -stats are hollingers player stats-
      TO: Turnover Ratio – the percentage of a player’s possessions that end in a turnover. Turnover Ratio = (Turnover x 100) divided by [(FGA + (FTA x 0.44) + Assists + Turnovers]

  • Stephen Cooper

    I thought Ian played extremely well last night too. I was a little skeptical when Roy left with the 4 fouls, but Ian provided almost the same exact rim protection as the Big Dawg has been providing the entire series. If Ian can keep that type of play up, then Coach Vogel might be able to allow Roy to rest a few extra possessions. David West will be just fine. Remember when he struggled in the Atlanta series and then in Game 5 he took over?

    I’m thinking that the Knicks are going to insert Chris Copeland into the starting lineup tomorrow night at the PF spot. Now, from what I remember in this series, Copeland cannot guard West and is always picking up a foul against him, so if the Knicks do start him, it shouldn’t be too hard to get him into early foul trouble.

  • lil-bang

    Great win on Game 4. Keep home court advantage. Only 2 things that worry me about this Pacer’s team and I believe the 2 factors that could cost them a series:

    1. Turnovers-do I need to say more?

    2. Can they close out a close ball game? Pacers have yet to see a close ball game this post season. Alot of series in the postseason can be factored to that one win a team had a chance to win, but couldnt quiet get the job done. This team showed some ups and downs throughout the whole season on close ball games, but most of the time the offense just looked horrid coming down the wire and couldn’t put a team away and they relied on the other team missing the final shot. Have them improved? Can they win a close ball game in the playoffs under the pressure? A nail biter game is going to happen sometime this postseason and I just don’t know if the play calls and execution are there yet to actually push this team to the next level.
    Go Pacers…