Post Game Grades: Pacers Block Magic for Opening Night Victory

The first first quarter of the 2013-14 NBA season featured a 12-0 open by the Pacers and an 18-9 finish by the Magic. There were 11 turnovers and 28 missed shots, with a side of erratic bench play thrown in, just for flavor.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, Pacer basketball is back.

And while the first half of tonight’s 97-87 Indiana victory showed some of last year’s “bad” – anemic offense (88/100), poor ball control (13 turnovers), bench blahs (reserves outscored 27-5) – the second half brought last year’s good, along with some promise.

The defense was stifling pretty much until garbage time, allowing only 81 points per 100 possessions on .419 eFG% through the first 41 minutes of the game. The starting unit was dominant again, posting a +10 in only 17 minutes together, holding the Magic to a stunning 58 points per 100 in that time. (For reference, that roughly a bucket ever four (1,2,3,4) possessions).

Perhaps the most encouraging thing was the 17-4 run to open the fourth quarter. It was orchestrated – for the most part – by a lineup consisting of C.J. Watson, Orlando Johnson, Lance Stephenson, Luis Scola, and Ian Mahinmi. The only real scare after that was when Roy Hibbert went down, clutching his knee. Fortunately, that proved to be a false alarm.

Orlando is likely to be a bad team, and that is demonstrated contrasting the 18 blocks Indiana collected to the 10 free throws attempted by the Magic. So, there’s only so much you can take from this. The good news, however, is that you can take a win, and that will be of some value.


Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at us at (@8pts9secs) or (@TimDonahue8p9s) on Twitter.

David West, PF 31 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-5 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 5 BLK | 5 TO | 13 PTS | +11

Struggled with turnovers (team high 5) and his shot, but matched his career high with 5 blocks.

Paul George, SF 36 MIN | 8-16 FG | 5-7 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 4 TO | 24 PTS | +11

Looked like a number 1 option out there, with 24 points. Hit a huge three at end of third to help spur the 21-4 run the game open. Had three turnovers in first half (causing the minus), but none in the second.

Roy Hibbert, C 27 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 7 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +15

The important part is that his knee is fine, and he’ll play tomorrow. Had 16 boards and 7 blocks, which is a night full of work, but only 1 board came in his 10 second half minutes. Looked mechanical and timid offensively, but still important defensively.

George Hill, PG 29 MIN | 2-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +5

Didn’t do much of note.Needs to hit the open looks.

Lance Stephenson, SG 36 MIN | 8-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +11

Outstanding start to his fourth season, scoring efficiently, getting to the rim (5/5 in the restricted area) and even nailing a couple of threes from above the break.

Luis Scola, PF 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -2

Solid, if unspectacular Pacer debut for the Argentinian vet. Hit some key buckets, scoring 6 points in the Pacer 17-4 run to start the 4th. Would like to see more than 1 board and 1 assist, though.

Solomon Hill, SF 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -10

10th man in a 10-man rotation. Only player with a sizable negative +/-, but not sure how much anyone should be expecting of him at this stage of his career.

Ian Mahinmi, C 17 MIN | 0-1 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -1

Not much of a line, but solid in reserve.

C.J. Watson, PG 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +2

Decidedly, not DJ, but also, nothing to write home about.

Rasual Butler, SG 1 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 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +11

Very nice line for the second year player. Like Scola, he scored 6 points in the Pacers 17-4 4th quarter run

Frank Vogel

The Pacers are brutally effective – but not efficient – and that’s a big part of why they trailed at the half. Vogel, as usual, calmed the team down, allowing the Pacers to take control in the second half.

Tags: Game Recap

  • Realist

    Less Solo, More Cope, imo.

    • Josh Baker

      Cope caught Gerald Green disease. Can’t hit a 3 while being a Pacer. Hopefully he finds a cure.

      • NLP

        He better find it soon since his ESPN the magazine cover they made for him said he was the future of Pacers basketball.

      • Joe Betz

        Copeland is a much better player than Green. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up in BBall IQ. I think he didn’t get the nod because Orlando played a small-ball lineup most of the time, Hill will get less time moving into the season against better teams, and, yes, Cope did not impress in preseason with his outside shooting, but he has an interest in playing and improving…he’s actually hungry, and I think Green just wanted checks…

        • Josh Baker

          I don’t think anyone thinks GG is a better player and I certainly didn’t say that. The thing is that Cope just did not hit shots in the preseason. So that’s a problem, and I have to assume that is why he’s not playing.

          • Realist

            I understand that. But it’s not like Solo was amazing during the preseason, that’s all.

            And as NLP notes below, it’s hard for him to be “the future of Pacers basketball” if he can’t crack a 10-man rotation minus Granger.

    • poot

      i made notes about this in the Knicks series last year… Copeland was on fire, and was due to come back to earth.
      Cope’s first 2 years in college he didnt shoot many 3s (48 3PAs in 54 games). 25% shooting the first season. maybe he was inspired by his 39% shooting in the second season to jack up more 3s.
      so he put up 276 3s in 59 games over the next 2 seasons. shot 36.6% —-> i argued this is what he really is. 36-37%
      in the D league he shot 91 3s, made 46.2%
      then with the Knicks he shot 140 3′s and made 42.1% (13th best % in the NBA)
      i argued he was on the decline, regressing towards his mean. but in the playoffs he kept hitting, upped to 47.8%

      just need to trust him as he has some inconsistency, but the ability to hit 3′s at a very high rate is there.
      at worst he’s as good as G2. at best, he is a true weapon. just play him and find out, he may have already gotten the misses out of his system

  • djmcba

    Love having Pacer basketball back. Thought it was interesting Vogel played the 2nd unit together longer than he would have last year despite them getting trounced in Q2. Scola’s ability to knock down the midrange should help drastically with the 2nd unit once they have more time to gel. I’m guessing Vogel won’t play cope until he improves enough defensively?

    Certainly looked like game one of the season but as long as it’s a W who cares. Go pacers

  • NLP

    Good thing this game was against Orlando and not a better team in the East or it would have been a loss. It Helped being in the bonus basically the whole 3rd quarter as the Pacers shot 5 more FT that quarter than Orlando did for the whole game.

    OJ should have picked up an A as he sparked a run and Scola a C+ at best with getting 8 points on 7 shots as his positive and was getting eaten alive trying to play defense in the first half, lucky for us and him the Magic stop giving the ball to Nicholson n the second half after dropping 18 in the first half and didn’t pick up a board until three and a half left in the game up by 17 vs a team who shot 38.7%.

    The bench did have a good run in the 4th when Orlando was gassed after trying to overcome their terrible start and the FT/Foul difference but still overall got beat 44 and 15 to 26 and 8 so they’re going to need to pick that up because when the PT goes away vs the Heat while the Heat bench still gets its shots its going to be the repeat of the last 3 years.

    Rebounding will be a key to watch going forward Roy is still a beast on the O-Glass but we picked up only 4 other offensive rebounds and two of those came from Lance and just 4 over the final 3 quarters.

    • poot

      did you watch the game or just read the box score?

      • NLP

        I clearly watched the game if I’m talking about how bad Scola played defense. There’s an O in Scola but sure as hell no D,.he has the defensive footwork of a paraplegic!

    • djmcba

      I was hoping you’d follow hansbro to Toronto…

      Excited for your anti-Vogel, anti-Scola (a pro-hansbro manifestation), everyone needs more shots, and statistics mean everything take on the games this year. troll on sweet troll.

      • NLP

        I was waiting for you to make this about Tyler which it isn’t since he wanted out of Indy and wasn’t the one getting toasted on defense or was helpless on the glass, but if you do want to make it about Tyler in his 4 years with the Pacers he only twice had a game where he played 20+ and got one of fewer rebounds and in one of those two he went off for 16 points and his +/- those games were +12 and +19 not a -2 like Scola in his first game.

        • Jack Wright

          Scola had a mediocre game and was still a memorable component in the victory. You can spew out all the worthless data you feel like but when I watched that game last night, I saw a significant advantage in having Scola rather than Hansbrough.

  • Earl Malmsteen

    They were not collectively giving a full effort until Oladipo had that transition dunk in the 3rd. After that the intensity picked up right away and it was over fast.

  • Joe Betz

    Watching Scola shoot the 17ft shot felt so much better than watching Tyler launch into the post erratically or throw up a muscled jumper. CJ Watson controlled things and played well off the ball to space the floor. Hibbert deserves an A….he was the reason the Pacers were able to keep things close before pulling away–disagree? See the 2-3 straight layups given by West and Scola. Pacers looked good. Lance looked great. I’m assuming Hill got the nod over Copeland because of the smaller, guard-oriented lineup of the Magic. Thoughts on this?

    • djmcba

      Lance looked phenomenal – liked the other article saying “Born Ready for a Raise”

    • Jack Wright

      Lol each time Scola would shoot I’d picture Hansbro jumping up and line-driving the ball at the rim/backboard. It made me smile

  • poot

    8p9s is BACK!!!! thank you thank you, now poot may retreat to hibernation.

  • Derek Cooper

    Wow! Lance and paul look like different players this year_and hibbert was a beast.__…gotta change my opinion to yes lance starts over granger. _but if danny gets back in shape+rhythm I suppose they might consider a lance- paul- danny- david- roy starting lineup. __judging by this 1 game lance looks like The creator-distibuter who takes care of the ball.

    • Jack Wright

      that’s an interesting idea

  • Jack Wright

    just brainstorming here for no good reason:

    starters: Stephenson, Granger, George, West, Hibbert
    bench: Watson, G. Hill, Johnson/Cope/S. Hill, Scola, Mahinmi

    starters: Stephenson, Granger, George, West, Hibbert
    bench: G. Hill, Johnson, Cope/S. Hill, Scola, Mahinmi

    starters: Stephenson, G. Hill, George, West, Hibbert
    bench: Watson, Johnson, Granger/Cope/S. Hill, Scola, Mahinmi

    • Realist

      I’d love to see Lance play some point too actually.