The Indiana Pacers are heading to 82-0 after that first win of the season. Okay maybe not, but still great to get that first win of the season in front of a packed house. The place was rocking as fans really showed up to support the Blue and Gold. The Pacers came out firing in that first quarter, and got the ball rolling. Paul George comes out strong with first points of the entire NBA season. That’s a cool stat to throw up in his legacy for this season. That was 2 of his 24 points for the game. A great statement for how George can come out strong this whole season. I would love for him to be right around that range of scoring each night, but at the same time understand if he doesn’t always get that much production.
It was more about the defense of the Indiana Pacers tonight as they had a block party going. David West had 5 blocks. Paul George gets his own 3 blocks. Roy Hibbert, strong on the rebounding side of things as well, had his own 7 blocks. Even Lance Stephenson joined the starting five with a block. George Hill misses out on the fun as he didn’t get to any blocks, but still looked to a great floor leader out there. 18 blocks total for the Pacers is quite a defensive effort.
They also controlled the rebounding as Hibbert was able to be one shy of his career high and nabs 16 of them. The Pacers as a team outrebounded the Magic with 44 to 39, one area that this team just all seems to excel at. Whether it’s grabbing the actual rebound or tipping it out, the Pacers get their hands on the ball when they need to.
One area that will need to come around was the free throw shooting. 22 out of 32 felt a whole lot worse once I saw the actual stat as it felt like a few of the shots just missed badly. I am sure it could have just been one of those off nights, and guys will step up to make those easy baskets. Shooting wise, the Pacers were around 48%, which I think is fine for them to be at. They get 97 points and win by 10 even after building up a nice lead in that fourth quarter. The second half is where things just seemed to open up so much for this Pacers team. They scored 29 and 28 points in those final periods to pull away, even if that score looked close, final score of 97-87.
You have the usual guys in Paul George, Roy Hibbert, David West, and even Lance Stephenson doing some good work out there. But I was impressed with Orlando Johnson, who ends up as the sixth man coming on the floor first for that second unit. He might not have filled the stat sheet, but he was out there playing hard, and had a nice looking three pointer that I don’t think he’s shooting last year. I don’t even know with Danny Granger available, if Johnson gets that much playing time. But he ends up playing 15 points and get 9 points. The confidence really looked to be there, and he even had a great looking pass to an open man. Johnson could be that guy to step up while Granger is out with this latest injury.
It’s one of 82, and the Pacers definitely set the tone with just playing hard all evening, and not trying to panic when they got down a few points, and things weren’t running smooth. A team that really turned it up in that second half, and is learning how each guy can contribute. Now comes that test of playing back to back in a road game. Let’s see how the Pacers handle that tomorrow evening against the New Orleans Pelicans.