Midway through the third quarter tonight, I looked down at the Pacers box score which was yet again showcasing a beautiful bevy of balanced basketball. George Hill and Lance Stephenson each had 13 points while Luis Scola, David West, and Paul George stood at 10, 8, and 8 respectively.
If you prefer outstanding individual offensive performances, Pacer box scores may fool you into thinking that they are boring. And yet, despite the balance, several Pacers did in fact submit fantastic individual offensive performances tonight.
Starting anywhere other than the budding 23-year-old superstars would be a waste of time. From the get-go, good Lance showed up, snatching down rebounds with his trademark ferocity while also showcasing his improved playmaking ability. He ended up finishing with twelve assists as he seemingly looked to pad his assist total throughout the entire 4th quarter, but it’s hard to imagine someone playing a more complete and consistent first half than the one Lance submitted (despite this ridiculous technical that the officials felt necessary to whistle him for). By halftime, he had 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists while also harassing the offensively challenged Tony Allen at every turn. To be honest, Lance played one of the few games where even his triple-double stat line understated his performance.
For his part, Paul George started out slowly, missing two decent looks from downtown in the first quarter before once again, sitting out the first eight minutes and change of the second. Still, it wasn’t one of those “Paul George just doesn’t look engaged” types of games that have plagued him in previous seasons. He kept attacking openings in the defense and hauled down several big rebounds – he was simply missing shots he has normally made so far this season. He would break out of his mini shooting slump in the third quarter by going 5-6 from the field for 13 points as the Pacers broke the game wide open. George now sits in elite company with Hakeem and Shaq as the only players in NBA history to score at least 20 points in every game of an 8-0 start.
Both guys are only 23-years old (starts hyperventilating a little bit).
In all, it was a dominating and complete performance from the league’s only remaining undefeated team. Midway through the fourth quarter, the Pacers led 80-55 before stepping off the gas a little bit in garbage time. Luis Scola was brilliant, yet again off the bench with 10 first half points. CJ Watson, after playing quite well in the starting lineup in George Hill’s absence, looked completely comfortable leading the second unit. In the first half alone, he contributed four assists and had several “Everybody, let’s calm down” moments in important spots. Even Ian Mahimni displayed some Roy Hibbert-like defense in the paint and rolled to the basket several times for easy buckets and trips to the free throw line.
I’ll stop now before I spout off some hyperbole about the Pacers being unbeatable when they play like this, because rash statements like that can only come back to haunt you.
Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at Jared (@8pts9secs),Tim (@TimDonahue8p9s), or Jon who filled in tonight (@Twitch8p9s) on Twitter.
David West, PF 26 MIN | 5-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +9
Nitpickers might like him to cut his turnover rate down, but he adds so much to this team by way of intangibles that you live with the minute flaws. His chemistry with Lance is incredibly important, and the pick-and-pop that two ran that gave Lance his 9th assist near the end of the 3rd quarter was perfection.
Paul George, SF 32 MIN | 9-16 FG | 5-6 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 23 PTS | +24
The key with George this year has been his efficiency, and what more could you ask for than 23 points in only 32 minutes of action while shooting 56% from the floor? While his numbers weren’t spectacular in the first half, he remained engaged and opened up a lot for his teammates.
Roy Hibbert, C 24 MIN | 1-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 5 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTS | +14
Hibbert’s offense was completely unnecessary tonight, and I think he’s more than ok with that. In addition to his five blocks, I counted 9 Memphis misses in the paint that he altered. Hibbert showed the reigning Defensive Player of the Year that there is a new sheriff in town.
George Hill, PG 25 MIN | 6-9 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +7
Hill looked completely healthy yet again in limited minutes, and managed to fill up the stat sheet while playing against a fellow Hoosier.
Lance Stephenson, SG 34 MIN | 5-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 12 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 13 PTS | +11
What, you couldn’t get a steal tonight, Lance? Best game since the Knicks’ series last year.
Luis Scola, PF 19 MIN | 5-10 FG |2-3 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | +8
Hey, remember when this slot used to be filled by Tyler Hansbrough?
Solomon Hill, SF 14 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -4
He pulled down some nice rebounds and his defense has been above average, but Hill still struggles on the offensive end. More than once, he seemed to shy away from attacking the basket as he settled for a 3-point attempt. Still, at least he’s confidently taking the jumper as opposed to, I dunno, Sam Young?
Ian Mahinmi, C 24 MIN | 2-3 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +2
Ian’s best game of the year practically gave Roy Hibbert a night off, and one can only guess as to how important Mahinmi’s game will be in order to get Indy’s bigs through the entire season.
C.J. Watson, PG 20 MIN | 0-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +10
If the stat line looks subpar, just notice his plus-minus and understand that wasn’t a fluke. Watson runs the second unit like a seasoned veteran.
Orlando Johnson, SG 16 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +1
One has to admire Orlando’s fearlessness at the offensive end. One also has to point out his youthful exuberance often leads to poor decision-making. A few ill-advised drives kept Orlando from a higher grade.
Chris Copeland, SF 3 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -1
The crowd favorite came in and sent the stands into a frenzy when his late 3-pointer rolled in. Copeland acknowledged the love with a nice tip of the cap to his supporters as well. One has to think he will be called upon at some point this season in a big moment.
Donald Sloan, PG 3 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -1
Tags: Game Recap