Post-Game Grades: Pacers Handle Wolves, Improve to 13-1


It wasn’t the exact recipe for success that Tim talked about today. But the Pacers once again spent 36 minutes playing an opponent close before deciding to yield nothing and score at will for a short burst that effectively ended the game.

It’s now abundantly clear that Indiana has another level they can tap into, seemingly whenever they need it most, to put away the competition. It’s like Fast & Furious nitrous.

The Wolves played well at times. Kevin Martin started the game getting the best of Paul George on a few plays and later Ricky Rubio was able to navigate his way through the defense continually, opting not to shoot but to find an open big man in the paint for easy hoops on several occasions. Kevin Love’s shot was off but he was still Kevin Love, chewing up boards, making some nice finishes and getting to the line.

The Pacers did their thing on offense as well. George Hill was relentless early and refused to be anything but magnificent. Paul found himself open for threes, made a few nice moves and was the recipient of some slick passes after astute cuts that earned him cheapies at the rim. David West struggled at the start but later found a way to ensure everyone in the building knew he was the stronger person in the arena not named Pekovic.

All this individual play kept the game near-knotted. The Pacers defense generally kept the Wolves from hitting many shots, but Minny was active on the offensive glass and the got to the line a ton. (This was certainly due to some friendly whistles — something Indiana’s players, and coach, grew increasingly frustrated with to the point that it nearly took them out of the game for good.)

Then, the fourth quarter hit, Indiana completely locked down the defense and stopped fouling. They piled on the points the other way and it was all over but some fancy-pants showboating at the end.

Business as usual

Minnesota Timberwolves 84 Final
Recap | Box Score
98 Indiana Pacers

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 29 MIN | 6-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 13 PTS | +9

Not his best work, but was instrumental in changing the tide from a free-flowing game where shots were easy to come by into a contest where muscles were a priority.

Paul George, SF 39 MIN | 10-16 FG | 2-4 FT | 8 REB | 4 AST | 4 STL | 1 BLK | 6 TO | 26 PTS | +14

It’s downright nutty that he can have a quiet 26-point night. This was mainly due to him hitting wide-open threes and benefitting from several easy dunks. Either way, the efficient-y-ish efficiency. He was sloppy with the ball though, giving up too many turnovers.

Roy Hibbert, C 27 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | +1

Ian Mahinmi played so well, that Hibbert got to rest a lot. Protected the rim very well while on the floor, but he wasn’t needed much after helping to establish Indiana’s inside presence early.

George Hill, PG 39 MIN | 9-13 FG | 5-6 FT | 3 REB | 7 AST | 5 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 26 PTS | +6

Best game of the year. Ferocious and determined to attack, attack, attack. No hesitation. When he plays like this — being the best player on the floor for long stretches — it’s usually curtains for the opposition.

Lance Stephenson, SG 30 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | +14

Erratic and made some mental mistakes. Frank Vogel yelled at him for walking back down the court after a miss, for example. But was devastating around the hoop during Indiana’s big run, and helped neuter the Wolves.

Luis Scola, PF 19 MIN | 4-10 FG | 1-1 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | +5

Threw up several airballs, but also showed his veteran savvy by going at Kevin Love down low. He tried not to settle for shots from distance, knowing that he could back him down and get a closer look. Final line looks dandy.

Ian Mahinmi, C 21 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +13

He was bigger than his line. Made several nice finishes — and catches — not to mention a big block that brought a bunch of life to the building. One of his finer stints in recent, or distant, memory.

C.J. Watson, PG 17 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | +8

Didn’t like.

Orlando Johnson, SG 19 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-2 FT | 5 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | 0

Thought he scored more than this. Missed those two free throws. Active on the boards, and seemed involved.

Tags: Game Recap

  • jsmithson1882 .

    I hope this starts a trend for GHill. This team has been tough to handle with average point guard play early in the season. With him playing aggressive, it makes them downright scary. So many weapons out there. Now if CJ Watson can fix up his long range woes then they’ll be set.

  • djmcba

    the sequence of the game after West got T’d up, GHill wanted to kill Scott Foster, the entire crowd wanted to kill the refs and then PG killed the rim windmill stylee was dope.

    • wesmont

      Did anyone notice how many times D West punished Love?In the second half alone ,West Slammed an arm,forearm,shoulder into Love away from the ball.Love kept looking at the refs for a call.I can assure you ,no love lost between them(pun intended).I love watching west establish territory,he absolutely is the face of this franchise!

  • PacersFan

    its funny, we’re obviously 5 deep but games like this show our most underrated starter (only a “caretaker pg”) can really be the difference maker for us. when he plays well, he lifts the whole team

    • PacersFan

      although i worry that GH’s hefty contract will play into us losing lance…

  • Ian

    Our bench bigs have been excellent all season, but it’s a bit frustrating that our shooters off the bench are so off on their shot that it’s ‘watch between your fingers’ time. OJ is shooting %27 from 3 and Watson is at %20. Worse is that Watson’s shot looks like a mental issue, he’s missing really badly.

    Part of the problem might be that the Pacer’s key 3 point shooters, George, Hill, and sometimes this season, Lance are happy shooting 3s at the elbow or top of the arc. Most role playing 3 point shooters tend to live and die at the corners (Watson especially is a corner 3 guy), and except for the occasional opposition breakdown, the Pacers generate few of these. That’s one of the things that really separates them from the elite offensive teams like Miami and the Spurs, those teams are brilliant at getting their supporting cast open looks from the corners. The corner 3 is the most efficient shot in the game, along with a dunk. For an organization that is so good at applying stats to their defensive principles, they need to do a better job at optimizing their offense to get these sorts of open looks.

    I hope George Hill’s recent play will finally start shutting people up about his ‘massive’ contract (which is exactly in line with other mid-tier vet PGs like Jennings, Teague and Calderon). For a starting PG on a title contender who is not on a rookie deal, he gets paid exactly what he’s worth. Dude is shooting .442 from 3 this season, and they are almost all from the hardest area on the floor.

    Lance is really packing the stats sheet but his lack of consistency and maturity just might be enough to keep his price within the Pacer’s range, especially if Lance is willing to give a small discount given all the organization has done for him (that’s a big if, Lance is saying all the right things, but he’s a young player who is looking for his first real paycheck, and often other needs take over). If the Pacers insist on not making Copeland a key part of the bench, its possible he could be moved to free up some space at the end of the season who knows as well.

  • Joe Betz

    Pacers looked much more focused and ready for this game. Vogel’s decision to sit Mahinmi against the Sixers looks a little better now, perhaps giving him some rest to play his best game of the young season.

    Watson is struggling with his shot, and I agree it is a mental thing. But, his career averages should tell us it’s just a matter of time before he hits some shots (like the huge three in Brooklyn). Thank goodness he does not fly at the rim erratically like DJ. Veteran savvy should be a statistic (maybe it is…advanced metrics modifier?)

    George Hill can ball, and he is not overpaid. Considering intangibles (character, community involvement, etc.) and the number of game winning shots over the past two seasons, he earns exactly what I would expect him to earn.

  • Derek Cooper

    Wow_g hill when he’s attacking_so good and fun to watch._________also with d rose out and everything else in the east__ looks like this season could be a big argument for reoranizing how teams make the playoffs…