Post Game Grades: Pacers Honor Pierre the Pelican by Winning Ugly

Late in the second quarter of Indiana’s 95-90 come-from-behind victory over the New Orleans Pelicans, I made the following tweet:

Being wrong there broke a personal stretch of being absolutely correct that spanned minutes, perhaps even more than an hour, leading up to the fateful typage.

I can live with it. How ‘bout you?

The first two games have been Pacer basketball in all its gory – sketchy shooting and profligate turnovers that eventually ended up in a victory. They’ve demonstrated why I hold out very little hope for 55+ wins and a #1 seed, but at the same time consider Indiana the most likely title contender in the Eastern Conference not named Miami.

The Pacers are too sloppy, and their offense too erratic, to pile up regular season victories like cordwood. They are prone to dead spots, and they rarely run away from teams, and I think that costs them a handful of head-shaking losses over the course of 82 games.

What they can do, though, is be brutally effective. Indiana defends and rebounds, and most importantly, hardly ever lets teams get away from them. They are a long-haul team – built for seven-game playoff series – and the win in New Orleans is a microcosm of why.

The Pellies largest lead was 16, and it occurred for the last time 18 seconds into the third quarter. New Orleans – a young team with a good coach and some impressive talent – had Indiana reeling during their dominant first 24 minutes. The Pacers were lucky to only trail by 14 at the break.

Then, the Pacers finally landed a solid blow by answering the Pelicans’ opening bucket of the third with an 8-0 run. From there, the game became a wrestling match, much to Indiana’s favor.

After allowing 18 points off of 11 first half turnovers, the Blue & Gold gave up only two on their seven second half miscues.

After allowing New Orleans to collect 14 offensive rebounds out of the 36 chances off Indy’s defensive glass in the first three quarters, the Pacers surrendered only 1 of the 10 fourth quarter opportunities.

After missing 4 of 10 free throw attempts while trying to come back in the third quarter, Indiana calmly nailed all 11 freebies in a 36 point fourth.

After allowing over 106 points per 100 and scoring only 81 points per 100 in the first 24 minutes, the Pacers locked down (84/100 allowed) and poured it on (117/100 scored) over the final 24.

It would be easier if the Pacers were a well-oiled machine, but nowhere near as interesting.

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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 33 MIN | 3-11 FG | 6-6 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 12 PTS | +3

David was the only offense early, but wasn’t enough, and once again struggled with his shot (3/11) and turnovers (3).

Paul George, SF 39 MIN | 9-19 FG | 10-13 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 32 PTS | +9

Don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen any signs of Paul being unable to deal with the pressures of heightened expectations, yet. (Missed free throws are a bit of a drag, though.)

Roy Hibbert, C 22 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-3 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 5 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | +7

Always tough to tell how much to penalize a player for foul trouble, because sometimes, it’s not his fault. I’d say it was a mixed bag last night. Hibbert’s extended absences hampered the team, but he made big plays late.

George Hill, PG 36 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 19 PTS | +1

Hill had trouble early dealing with the Pellies’ pressure, but delivered 14 second half points and a crucial 3 to put the Pacers up 4 with 31.1 seconds left.

Lance Stephenson, SG 41 MIN | 7-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +3

Lance is a player whose numbers, I’ve felt, moderately to seriously understated his value throughout his emergence. Tonight’s line, I think, does the opposite. He made some plays., but expectations are rising, and I thought his decision making was very poor last night.

Luis Scola, PF 17 MIN | 3-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 6 PTS | +5

In only 18.5 minutes per night, Luis isn’t stuffing the stat sheet – the only individual number that is impressive is his 7/11 shooting – but he’s having a positive effect. In each of the first two games, he’s been on the floor during pivotal early 4th quarter stretches, going 3-for-3 Tuesday night, and 2-for-2 last night.

Ian Mahinmi, C 24 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 4 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -4

Ian remains flawed offensively, but this game was a flash of why the Pacers wanted him to back up Roy. In extended minutes, he grabbed 7 boards and blocked 4 shots. More importantly, the team didn’t give up much ground (-4).

C.J. Watson, PG 15 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | 0

Non-factor, though it was nice to see him hit his two freebies during a stretch where PG missed three and GHill missed one.

Orlando Johnson, SG 13 MIN | 0-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +1

Non-factor.

Frank Vogel

The team is a reflection of the coach. They just keep coming. It’s not about perfect, just about getting the job done.

Topics: Game Recap

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  • fakepoot

    let’s play: GUESS WHOSE LINE

    40 minutes
    FG: 8-14
    FT: 2-2
    Pts: 18
    Reb: 15
    Blks: 3
    +/-: +18
    Game: W

    sounds like a pretty good line right?

    so who did this last night?

    any guesses?

    stumped? ok i willl tell you:

    Miles Plumlee

    WTF?!?!?!!?

    • AMF1322

      It was a weird NBA night. This Sixers beating Miami? I know Miami played against the Bulls on tuesday, but against the Sixers? A team made to lose? Seriously?

      • fakepoot

        poot made a list of most overrated teams heading into this season and Miami made the top 5. i really think Miami will not be a top 2 seed in the east this season, meaning after the first round they won’t have home court in any series. they are not well built, they are getting too old, teams have figured out how to exploit their weaknesses. basically their only hope is that Greg Oden and Michael Beasley play like All Stars.

        but yeah even despite that losing to a tanking team is bad. the Pacers almost fell into the same trap against a better team that was trying to win. but man the Pacers overcame. it was beautiful Pacers basketball at the end…

        when the sixers won, they played a smooth electric tune with the lyrics “phil-a-del-phi-a, seventy-six-ers” and maybe i was just high (off of the heat loss) but it really hit the spot. i’d love to hear the Pacers play some kind of original tune after their signature wins. i can hear it now

        indi- ana pacers, yeah.

        • wesmont

          How about Takin Care Of Business by Bachman-Turner overdrive.A great rocker that epitomizes Pacer BB/showing up amid all the hustle and bustle and just doin your job.It’s also got a catchy hypnotic beat.

    • Derek Cooper

      Yup. He’s got skills and abilities that fit well playing in their running+ pick+rolling style_I think he’ll put up nice numbers this year…scola we prefered cuz in our style and in a grinding slowed down playoff games_he brings a post up scoring threat and his shooting can space things out and he’s got the veteren experience+ smarts. Plus we re locked into a contract with our vet backup c who mostly doesn’t score and needed some scoring-post threat from our backup pf spot. AND they took gerald greens contract off our hands_ he may do a little something nice in pheonix’s system too.

    • Derek U

      He’ll et minutes. A player with his atleticism is goign to get rebounds which will equal points. Hansbro could have that line in 40 minutes. He’s a perfect fit for the Suns tank job this year.

  • Derek Cooper

    Funny opening about breaking your stretch. Wow that pelicans mascot looks um …idk weird and doesn’t overly resemble an actual pelican. The uniforms tho I think look good.

    • lil-bang

      Yeah Mascot is a little creepy. Aren’t most pelicans white, Not mellow yellow and Navy?
      I like the unis design too and logo, but the Mascot could use a re-evaluation.
      But I’m sure Boomer looks weird to most fans too? Blue Panther (most of the time) with yellow whiskers

    • fakepoot

      i think that mascot falls in the uncanny valley…. too realistic to be endearing. i can only imagine him running through the stands and little kids starting to cry.

      i think we’d all be happier if the pelicans mascot looked a little more like this:

  • lil-bang

    Loved the calmness of the team in the final quarter. Offense looked good in the final stretch (as did the defense-talking about those 2 blocks by big Roy in the final minute). The beginning of last year that game would have went a little different. Pacers pulled out some close games to begin the season last year, and lost some, but they were really really ugly endings. Example would be that Raptors game where it appeared no one wanted to win, plus the Pacers got the ball on the final play when cleary they hit it out of bounds.This game didn’t appear that ugly (atleast the 4th quarter for the Pacers). If they show this poise against some stronger opponents, plus stay healthy, then they will head to the NBA finals.
    Lot of people under estimate the excitement of an opening night. Thats why I am not overly shocked by Miami losing to Philly, or the Pelicans giving the Pacers some challenges in this game. Regardless Pacers have the best record in the league (for today). Let’s keep it that way.
    GO PACERS!!!

  • Joe Betz

    Lance’s two turnovers stick out in this column because they happened during key times in the game and showed Lance is still figuring out how to run a break / be a main ball handler, which is understandable. I give him a B+…he played the most minutes for the team and played well during 95% of those minutes, which is really exciting.

    The rotation was short. The big question: when will Copeland play? I really don’t want to see him fall into a Green role, which was to essential come in and jack threes midway through the fourth when the Pacers were down by 18. He is a better player than that, and I think you have to find time for him on the floor. My hope is that we have a 3-way practice battle between Copeland, Johnson, and Hill, and whoever wins that week gets time…I really, really hope that is what’s happening…with the late season shrinking Hill out of the rotation in favor of Copeland or Johnson, depending on matchups.