Post-Game Grades: Pacers Cap Off Long Weekend with Gritty Win over Cavs


Last week, the Pacers stumbled out of Toronto with an ugly, deserved loss. They were completely out-worked and out-played by the improving Raptors in a game that could be used as Exhibit A for basketball fans that hate the NBA regular season. Sometimes, the effort is just not there, and a team either blows a game or lets an inferior opponent hang around for far too long.

If you didn’t watch the Pacers’ game tonight, you may assume from the score that this was another one of those nights for the Pacers. That would be unfair – because while the Pacers lacked a lot of things against the Cavs in Cleveland, effort wasn’t one of them. Their work ethic had nothing to do with the result. The Pacers, quite simply, just played poorly.

You could tell the effort was there by the way Indiana defended. The Pacers held Cleveland to only 78 points on 34% shooting. For the first fifteen minutes of the second half, Cleveland only made five field goals, and while they were able to remain in reach due to their free throw shooting, Indy led by 14 with only nine minutes to play.

Unfortunately, the Pacers were unable to put the game away because they just couldn’t shoot the ball. The Pacers themselves only converted on 36% of their field goal attempts, many of the wide open or close to the basket variety. They were an atrocious 9 of 30 from inside of 15 feet for an almost impossible 30% from close range.

Again, the Pacers did a decent job of attacking the basket as much as possible, and even moved the ball well at some points of the game. The effort was there, the execution was not. Maybe it was the back-to-back. Maybe it was all the excitement of yesterday’s Colts’ comeback. Maybe it was just the cold weather.

Still, this was the type of game that good teams find ways to win. Even as Dion Waiters started to go nuts in the fourth quarter, hitting four consecutive jumpers and finding Anderson Varejao under the hoop on back to back possessions, the Pacers appeared confident, and never stopped working hard on defense.

The game could really be summed up by the final few possessions. Roy Hibbert fighting his way for a tough offensive rebound, only to miss one of the two free throws. Paul George and Roy Hibbert stoning Dion Waiters on the biggest possession of the game, only to again see Hibbert make only one of two free throws.

Even Mr. David West wasn’t immune from the shooting bug in Quicken Loans Arena, missing the first of two free throws before effectively icing the game.

But again, a win is a win. The Pacers may not have executed well enough to earn it, but earn it they did nonetheless.

Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at Jon Washburn (@Twitch8p9s) who filled in for Jared and Tim on Twitter.

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David West, PF 34 MIN | 4-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 7 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 11 PTS | +6

 

Shot terribly, but passed well and played outstanding defense on the younger, more athletic Tristan Thompson, several time singlehandedly turning him away with his strength and guile.

B-

Paul George, SF 36 MIN | 4-10 FG | 6-6 FT | 5 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | +1

 

You could basically copy/paste the first line from West’s description above, and add in that he shut down Dion Waiters on the game-deciding possession at the end.

B-

Roy Hibbert, C 33 MIN | 5-12 FG | 5-8 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | +1

 

Still manned the paint well despite Anderson Varejao’s ability to shoot the midrange jumper. Missed several makable post moves, but played hard and stayed out of foul trouble.

B

George Hill, PG 26 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -6

 

Bleh…

C-

Lance Stephenson, SG 34 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +2

 

Played under control and kept a level head. I am as shocked as you are.

C

Luis Scola, PF 14 MIN | 3-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -2

 

Really cleaned up the boards nicely, but other than that was a non-factor.

It WAS nice to see Luis’ and Varejao’s crazy hair bouncing around at the same time too…

B-

Danny Granger, SF 26 MIN | 4-12 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +5

 

His higher plus/minus might not make sense looking at his stat line, but Danny played really well. He knocked down a couple of threes and drove to the basket nicely. Unfortunately, he’s still not completely healthy, and it shows whenever he tries to elevate at the rim. Once he regains his finishing ability, the bench unit will be consistent and deadly.

B+

Ian Mahimni, C 15 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | +2

 

Struggled to hold on to the ball offensively, but played hard on defense, even throwing his body onto the floor early in the fourth quarter diving after a loose ball.

C

CJ Watson, PG 22 MIN | 0-6 FG | 4-4 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | +11

 

Filled up the stat sheet and basically did everything except for make his shots tonight.

B

 

Tags: Game Recap

  • Philip Tarrant

    Starters w only 7 TOs is a plus!

  • Ian

    Hill deserves better than a C-. Zero turnovers and hit a couple of nice 3s. The zero assists is less of a problem than it seems, given the Pacer’s terrible shooting and often stagnant movement on offense, its not surprising (Lance only had 2).

    Lance played reasonably well but a lot of his baskets were on step backs. The pick and roll generated virtually nothing which is why I think the Pacers had so much trouble scoring late in the game.

    The Cavs really played hard without their top 2 PG. I think the backups work much harder on D than Irving and Jack do. Scola’s offense has really taken a dip lately, and I’ve noticed that he’s only get a couple clean looks from midrange per game right now rather than 5-6 like he was getting.