You could look at Lance Stephenson stepping up in that third quarter as a good catalyst for the Indiana Pacers comeback last night. You could look at the defense of the Pacers as they held the New Orleans Pelicans to 12 points in that same third quarter as the catalyst.
But I feel it all started when some of the second unit guys came in and brought just a different energy. C.J. Watson and Danny Granger really looked to will this team to the next level that they needed to be.
That first quarter the starters were slow out of the gates and just looked to be out of sorts. I really thought George Hill was not with the game at all for whatever reason. Being there live and in person, I always take a little more notice of what the body language is of guys, and to me Hill’s just didn’t look right.
The second unit guys, while not doing anything drastic, still seemed to be that bright spot in the first couple of quarters. Danny Granger hits a three pointer and gets fouled to get the four points out of it. C.J. Watson was playing with more energy than usual. Luis Scola was looking for guys to get them open shots. It just all seemed to work well in bringing the Pacers make to be down only 5 points at half, when it could have been a lot worse.
That’s the story with the bench for this team, at times they’ll have to step up. Last night, I was glad to see them do that. It wasn’t even much playing time out there for guys like Watson and Scola, but you make the most of that time.
You go out there and get a few points while the starters can rest or get their heads back into the game. You go out and get the loose balls as Scola was out there a couple of times diving on the floor for a ball. Granger again should get credit for tying up a breakaway layup to force the jump ball. Those are the small plays that won’t get you on the stat sheet, but for me, they get noticed.
Those are the plays that you might need come playoff time when the Pacers need that extra bit of edge to get over a hump. That’s why Danny Granger fits well with the second unit. That’s why Luis Scola was brought here. C.J. Watson has looked to be a much better backup point guard than the Pacers have had for years. Even Ian Mahinmi comes in, plays his minutes, and does enough little things to help the Pacers. Each guy has settled into their role, and that’s why I know this team can go far.