Post-Game Grades: Early Troubles Subside as Pacers Bury Pistons in Detroit

After starting the year 3-0, the Pacers headed up to Detroit to clash with one of the few teams in the NBA that have a similarly large front court. The likes of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond are supposed to be able to match up with Indiana’s bigs in ways that most can’t.

But instead they just became dinosaur food for Roy Hibbert, who went all triceratops while swatting away 7 shots to bring his league-leading season blocked shot total to 21. In four games. Yup.

Indiana was humming early on the other end, too, dropping 29 first-quarter points on 13-for-21 (61.9%) shooting. Paul George was — as has become his new normal — sensational, hitting his first five shots while logging 15 points in the opening period. In fact, he singlehandedly bested the scuffling Pistons, which only managed 14 points on 23 shots in the first.

The roles quickly reversed, however, as Indiana was the team that spent the next 12 minutes shambling around the court to little effect. The Pacers embarrassed themselves, their loved ones and their dead pets by scoring just 9 points in the second quarter. Not so coincidentally — and aided by Indiana’s six turnovers — Detroit racked up 27 points on just 19 shots.

They say hoops is a game of runs but this switcharoo was just silly.

Some of it was certainly Lance Stephenson’s fault. He played all but three seconds in the quarter and was in no way the lone starter on the court who steadied the reserves as things went awry. Instead, he pressed and forced things rather than relying on the offense and just made a bad situation worse.

After an extended rest, the starters re-entered, and it seemed like the cavalry was back. We saw this countless times last year: the starters build a lead, the bench loses it and then the core five return to save the day.

Not this time. In the second quarter, they were no better than the reserves who started the tailspin. The outcome was the Pacers inexplicably trailing by three at the half.

On Twitter, fans were rightfully pointing the finger at Lance. But ultimately, his weak play didn’t end up mattering and may have even given the coaching staff a teachable moment in the film session (or perhaps even during the break).

Why didn’t it matter?

Because after halftime, the Pacers — especially Paul George and Lance Stephenson — immediately re-engaged into teeth-kicking mode, throwing wrecking balls and chainsaws and radioactive crocodiles at the Pistons on both ends of the court.

Paul and Lance each hit two shots early on to cap an 11-0 run that essentially ended Detroit’s night. The Pistons have talent so they kept fighting, and their bigs continued to get annoyed with Hibbert as the contest grew chippier.

But by and large the rest of the game was uneventful.

Just the lone undefeated team in the NBA showing up to the arena of a former rival, playing top-notch defense and taking care of business to improve its record to 4-0.

Ya know … doing Pacer stuff.

Indiana Pacers 99 Final
Recap | Box Score
91 Detroit Pistons

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

David West, PF 34 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +14

Rounding into form. Still not as comfortable out there when he gets the ball in his kitchen, but played good defense in the third when Indiana needed it and finished with a nice little line to boot.

Paul George, SF 41 MIN | 12-18 FG | 3-3 FT | 10 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 31 PTS | +18

I’m sure Mr. George has played better games — like against Miami in June, for example — but he was so productive tonight while playing so calmly and confidently that this game marked a new high for this new and improved incarnation of Paul George. He is mastering Serene Dominance, if that makes any sense, and one stretch was particularly incredible. He followed up a backdoor lob cut/alley oop dunk with an incredible steal then soon after hit a step-back three that was followed by one of the best drive-and-dishes of his career. Plays like this now happen so quickly, so unexpectedly and so precisely that I’m starting to think Paul George is less a basketball player and more a drone strike.

Roy Hibbert, C 34 MIN | 3-8 FG | 2-4 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 7 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +20

There is a sunblock sponsorship deal in big guy’s near future. SPF Hibbert, it will be called. (c) #patentpending

C.J. Watson, PG 30 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-6 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | +22

I have to admit that I wasn’t too optimistic when Indiana signed him, but C.J. has shown he meshes very well with this team while leading it to two straight victories as George Hill nurses his achey hip. Not just a fill in tonight but a difference maker.

Lance Stephenson, SG 39 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 10 PTS | -2

His second quarter — when he was often the only starter on the floor in a period in which the Pacers scored 9 points — wasn’t pretty. It was over-dribble theater at times and just a general head-scratch parade. But Lance was rather good otherwise, and he combined with George to lead a scoring run in the third that buried the Pistons. And it’s tough to dock him many points given the stat-stuffing line.

Luis Scola, PF 14 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -6

Still not himself, but had some nice flashes late that were encouraging. He’s going to be very good in the midrange very soon.

Solomon Hill, SF 5 MIN | 2-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | +8

Had one nice stint with mostly starters to close the first quarter, but Paul George played virtually the whole second half so his services weren’t needed again.

Ian Mahinmi, C 14 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -14

Did him.

Donald Sloan, PG 18 MIN | 1-3 FG | 3-4 FT | 3 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -12

Looks like Indiana’s third-string point might prove more reliable than their second-stringer from a year ago. Was solid and steady in the second half as the Pacers closed it out.

Orlando Johnson, SG 11 MIN | 2-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -8

Looking good out there. And didn’t even get posterized by C.J. Miles this time.

Tags: Game Recap

  • Realist

    I know it seems like the same old “starters get a lead, bench lose it” deal, but that’s not quite as fair when we’re missing DG and GH.

    Paul George beastin’. Got me some PG-for-MVP on Betfair a couple weeks ago, at 100/1. Just sayin’.

  • Jeffrey Wolfe

    New Blog on the Pacers win at Detroit.

    • djmcba

      I respect you working to do what you love but something doesn’t seem right about plugging your blog on other people’s hard earned creations…

      Especially without offering any other insight beyond a plug.

    • Philip Tarrant

      Agreed. Nobody likes a shameless plug.

  • djmcba

    JW nailed it tonight. Thought the grade for Lance is maybe a bit high but he came back and played well after Travis besting all q2. Still, him coming back the way he did doesn’t happen last year – definitely a sign of maturation but also signals how much room he has to grow.

    Saw Hibbert had more blocks than 10 other NBA teams heading into tonight – probably will be more than that tomorrow.

    Radioactive crocodiles, yessir.

  • Derek Cooper

    Hmm _that might work for a good team name. Instead of indiana pacers__ the Indiana Wreckingballs, Chainsaws and Radioactive Alligators. There u go. Maybe marketable …

  • Philip Tarrant

    I’m going to get me some of that SPF Hibbert. Tagline: Blocks anything that dares come near.

    People criticizing Paul George’s max deal are choking on their words early on in the season. I’m sure he won’t keep up quite this pace all season, but he seems well on his way to being a 20 PPG scorer, and he’s been incredibly efficient. Careless with the ball at times is the only detraction, but given the aggressiveness toward the rim and the confidence to knock down his shot or hit the open man depending on the situation, there’s no reason to think that he can’t be as effective all season. 20+ PPG, ~6 REB, 4-5 ASST is something I think could be reasonably expected from PG. That stat line in itself is ridiculous, but given his ability on the defensive end as one of the top wing defenders in the league, his value to the team is off the charts. This could be the year PG24 transitions from all-star to superstar. If he keeps up his current performance, I’d say he’s already there.

  • Jaret Binford

    “Just the lone undefeated team in the NBA showing up to the arena of a
    former rival, playing top-notch defense and taking care of business to
    improve its record to 4-0.

    Ya know … doing Pacer stuff.”

    Great write up! I really really really can’t wait for this bulls game tomorrow. The whole D-rose saying we aren’t rivals really has me going. I remember everyone in Indy hating on MJ all through the 90s, if the bulls aren’t our rivals than my world is upside down.

  • Jaret Binford

    Also, could you do a write up on the way the pacers are all tutoring Solomon Hill.. I always see Hibbert in his ear on the bench and that pass to Solo on the cutting baseline in the game tonight was magical. + all the videos they post picking on the rookie makes me think Solo is an example of how we churn out grade A pros (PG, Lance, Hibbert) We keep hitting home runs in terms of developing players into great players.

  • Guest


  • Martin R. See

    Triceratops were vegetarians

    • Derek Cooper

      And so are bulls_which are basically a modern mammal reflection of the ancient reptiles…the horns are there for defence against predetors but you wouldn’t want to mess with either one._so I guess I can see roy being like a gentle giant that can defend his herd and get nasty with gentlemanly herbivor like good manners…yea defensive specialist that can get nasty. Another team name possibility : the Indiana Triceritops_ fits our defensive style_big strong herd_tough nice guys. __or for our length+height we could be the Indiana Diplidocus’ _they’re also nice herbivor herd animals…and diplidocus isn’t an awkward goofy sounding word at all :) …brontasaurus I think sounds better and is about the same thing.

  • Derek U

    Wish Sloan would quit shying away from the open 3 point shot. If he can’t hit it, then he needs to quit chilling on the parameter cause they’re finding him wide open.

  • thedudewhoisright

    So I know its very very ealy in the season, but is it possible to win “Most Improved Player” two years in a row?

    • thedudewhoisright


      • lil-bang

        Indiana might get most improved player 2 years in a row. Lance Stephenson being it this year.

        • Realist

          Bledsoe, though.

  • Daniel Ray Glaze

    My question is when, and if, will we ever get see Copland play?