Post Game Grades: Pacers Squeak By Kings

The Good - After a first half where they allowed 60 points, the Pacers locked down to allow just 51 in the second half and overtime. They clearly stepped it up a notch after halftime, so it’s good to see them “flip the switch” defensively.

The Bad - The Kings didn’t have two of their three most important players in Cousins and Gay, and the Pacers still had a lot of problems defensively. Maybe they were caught off guard, but this game shouldn’t have been this close.

MVP - I don’t care that the Kings lost, Marcus Thorton has to be the MVP. This game shouldn’t have been close, and Thorton’s 42 point outburst kept Sacramento hanging around. In the absence of Cousins and Gay, Thorton played an amazing game.

LVP - We can usually live with George Hill struggling offensively, but not on a night like tonight where his counterpart has 38 points and 6 assists. Thomas is a very good point guard, but someone of Hill’s defensive caliber simply can’t be beat like that.

X-Factor - I feel like I’m cheating by using him multiple times, but Marcus Thorton. If you had to rank the importance of each player in this game before tip off, where would Thorton be on that list? Pretty low, right?

Defining Moment - Paul George hit a three, got fouled, and completed the four point play to send the game into overtime, providing even more evidence that he is indeed good at basketball.

Want to discuss the game? Talk to me on Twitter @JrMarkyMark


Indiana Pacers 116 FinalRecap | Box Score 111 Sacramento Kings
David West, PF 37 MIN | 9-14 FG | 3-6 FT | 6 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | +19Foul trouble early forced Vogel to bring in Luis Scola, but it’s hard to complain about much more out of West. He was the only Indiana big man who took advantage of the fact that no one on the Sacramento front line was capable of being a defensive stopper.
Paul George, SF 41 MIN | 12-22 FG | 8-8 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 4 STL | 2 BLK | 4 TO | 36 PTS | +9George seemed frustrated all night, and the emotion spilled over at the end of the second quarter into a technical. He may have reason to be upset, but you can’t give away free points in such a close game.Other than that, his play was just as good as the box score suggests.
Roy Hibbert, C 39 MIN | 3-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 5 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +13The Kings didn’t have Cousins, meaning a few players had their shot at guarding Hibbert. the 6’7″ Quincy Acy actually seemed to give Roy some problems, despite giving up a ton of height. For whatever reason, Hibbert didn’t look comfortable offensively.Regardless of his offensive struggles, the rebounding and rim protection were both there tonight.
George Hill, PG 40 MIN | 3-9 FG | 3-3 FT | 8 REB | 8 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 10 PTS | +11Isaiah Thomas went for 42 points and 6 assists. While this clearly isn’t entirely Hill’s fault, it’s tough to ignore that a lot of this occurred on his watch.Hill struggled from three, going just 1-6. Although he’s not the focal point of the Indiana offense, it would have been nice to see him take the 5’9″ Thomas in the post a little more.
Lance Stephenson, SG 46 MIN | 9-19 FG | 5-8 FT | 10 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | +12Lance struggled to guard Marcus Thorton early in the game, who went off for 22 in the first quarter. He struggled to fight through screens, and maybe he wasn’t relying on the help defense behind him enough.Still, Lance found a way to navigate through some rough stretches, including a time in the second quarter where he looked truly awful. Luckily, the rushed shots and wild, out of control play ended sooner rather than later.
Luis Scola, PF 17 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -18Scola struggled from the field as he was thrown into duty early. Sacramento’s front court depth simply doesn’t exist without Gay or Cousins, so it’s tough to figure out exactly why someone like Scola wasn’t more productive tonight.
Danny Granger, SF 19 MIN | 2-5 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -9He wasn’t the only guilty party, but we saw some lazy defense from Granger at times. Unfortunately, he didn’t have a ton of opportunity for impact on the offensive end, so it’s tough to give Granger a high grade.
Ian Mahinmi, C 13 MIN | 0-0 FG | 1-2 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | 0In typical “I’m a tall backup center” fashion, Mahinmi played within himself for 13 minutes while Roy Hibbert caught his breath. He did collect two blocks, which brought the Indiana center block total to seven for the game.
C.J. Watson, PG 13 MIN | 0-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -7Watson clearly struggled from the field, but his defensive efforts were impressive. He harassed Jimmer Freddete, who struggled to even maintain his dribble against Watson. I know Jimmer isn’t the best backup point guard in the world, but it was nice to see Watson make an impact on a night where his shot wasn’t there.
Chris Copeland, SF DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | DNP-Cheerleader mode.
Donald Sloan, PG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | DNP-Cheerleader mode.
Orlando Johnson, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | DNP-Cheerleader mode.
Rasual Butler, SG DNP COACH’S DECISION MIN | FG | FT | REB | AST | STL | BLK | TO | PTS | DNP-Cheerleader mode.
Frank Vogel
The game was obviously close, and went into overtime, but it’s tough to watch Lance Stephenson play 45 minutes while Granger plays just 19. Giving a few of those minutes to Danny would have been nice, for the sole purpose of not overworking Lance.No problem with only playing four bench players, although getting the starters an extra minute or two of rest here and there would have been nice. I’m being a little critical, as it was a close game and Vogel was concerned with winning, not micro managing minutes.

Tags: Game Recap

  • Patrick Talbert

    Every win counts, and Vogel coached like it tonight. If IND wins home court advantage by 1 game, they can look at tonight’s game as the game they needed to win.

    • Philip Tarrant

      I agree that every win counts and having some games where starters carry the brunt of the work is a necessity (even if you’re the Spurs!). However, the Pacers are solidly in the bottom 10 in bench minutes per game and the starters have already seen a more than a combined 1000 minutes (200 a piece average for any remedial math students) to this point in the year than the Spurs’ starters (based on starting lineup of the day, so in fact the difference is quite a bit more).
      I understand that these are two completely different situations because of age, but each starter is seeing roughly 2 min/game over league average. This doesn’t seem like a lot and maybe our young legs can grind it out all season, but basketball is a physical game and our guys are giving it their all on a daily basis for an 82 game season. Riding Lance, PG, and Hibb so hard especially could end up having long-term effects on health. I’m sure the staff is on top of what our guys can handle, but I just wish with as many blowouts as we’ve been a part of that the starters were getting closer to league average minutes, and I think it’s something Vogel should work on given the talent riding our pine.

      • Taposh ‘Tap’ Rudra

        I agree. The Pacers have been incredibly fortunate in the lack of injuries, just look at pretty much every other team. Vogel has to keep this stuff in mind, as much as they want the #1 seed

      • AMF1322

        I have to say that you’re being unfair with Frank. Three or four games ago, D-West, G-Hill and Hibbert were playing less than 30 minutes per game. D-West it’s still playing under 30, Big Roy is at 30.5, and G-Hill is at 31.3 (according to ESPN). I agree that he could use the bench more, and that he’s overplaying PG and Lance, but they’re 23 years old. Also, that ‘league average’ it’s also feeded with: players that are playing more than they would if the player above them wouldn’t got injured; and teams that are too flexible with who are their starters and how much they play (who are THE starting five in Miami, or OKC, or SA? You can tell who will play the most, but that doesn’t mean that they are starters). Also, let’s put it in perspective: George Hill it’s not playing more than Calderón in Dallas, neither D-West or Hibbert are playing more minutes than Nowitzki, Pau Gasol, or Zach Randolph. Even PG and Lance are playing less minutes per game than a player who has been labeled as injury prone like Stephen Curry.

        So, why it seems like it’s more than it really is? Two reasons. One: when you got a bench so good, you want to see it play more. Everybody knows about this bench’s potential, so it’s logical that a lot of people (myself included) want to see them play more. And two: Vogel changes are more static than other coaches. You can tell that: 2 starters will play the whole first quarter (most likely, Hibbert and PG); that an almost all-bench unit will come in at the end of the third or start of the fourth quarter; that the starters are more likely to end the half (except if one of them is in foul trouble). It seems that Frank are burning them more because the play more consecutive minutes. Maybe PG will play the whole first quarter, but he will rest the 4 first minutes of the second for sure (and maybe more a little bit more). Frank don’t like to make them play 4 minutes, take 1 and half to rest, then they come back in for 2 and half, then rest 2, and put them back for the final 2). When a player rests, he RESTS (except someone gets on foul trouble).

        He’s overplaying Lance and PG? Yes (41 and 43 minutes for Lance against LAC and GS, in games that didn’t go to OT? No wonder why he got his ass kicked by Gerald Green or P.J. Tucker against PHO). Frank is being Thibs? No, of course not. He’s being more like Popovich with D-West and Hibbert. Are we being lucky with injuries? Kind of. But it’s justified because of the minutes that everyone are playing or the age they have. And don’t forget we’ve lost Granger at the start of the season, and G-Hill were some games out too. But the fact is: this starter five is playing less minutes per game than another good teams with a stablished starting five (like Portland, Houston or GS).

        • Philip Tarrant

          I agree whole-heartedly with nearly everything you said. I was trying to squeeze in a page of logic into 2 (admittedly large) paragraphs (at 330 in the morning haha). I do not think Vogel is doing a bad job of coaching in the slightest and he deserves coaching the ASG, but if he has one problem, it’s in riding PG and Lance for more minutes than is absolutely necessary. With a player like Grange now back on the bench, you just feel certain he could parse down their minutes just a bit (~1 minute per game can make a big difference down the stretch).

          I don’t expect him to have to make the kind of roster adjustment that Pop has to make with the youth of this team, and West has been getting the ideal amount of minutes for where he’s at in his career. I also mis-stated that “each starter” was 2 min/game over league average, but meant that our average starter was playing roughly that much over the average starting minutes. Most of what I was trying to say you summed up nicely: “Everybody knows about this bench’s potential, so it’s logical that a lot of people (myself included) want to see them play more.” Agreed. And that’s why it would be nice to see just a bit more of the bench, especially as we’ve had quite a few blowouts to expend them in.

      • Jack Wright

        Vogel should try to give Rasaul Butler some minutes every game. But no worries. It’s only conjecture that playing the starters slightly more than league-average could potentially lead to injury/fatigue late in the season. Lance and PG are young; they can handle a lot of minutes. Our bench sucked last night, also.

  • Realist

    Hill was alright. We’ll live with Thomas going 13/31 I think.

  • Travis Wright

    Thomas’ scoring was somewhat inefficient. Frankly if he’s taking 31 shots,I feel confident we’ll win.

    • Travis Wright

      Also Watson…B-? No.

  • Greg Lautzenheiser

    WOW! Lance’s guy goes for 42(after being in a slump basically all season) has a line of 24/10/6 and 0 steals and you give him a B. GHill’s guy goes for 38(and remember he averages 20+ points a game for the season), and has a line of 10/8/8 with 3 steals and you give him a C. Thorton shot a very good 16 of 27(which tells me he wasn’t being defended well). Thomas shot 13 of 31(which is not horrible, but still, to me, indicates better defense) I’m not really sure what you want out of Hill. Scola shoots an even worse % than does Hill, didn’t guard anybody and at least gets a C+. And aside from the stats, I actually watched the game. Hill was often draped all over Thomas and he still scored. I’m just kinda confused by how you come by your grades.

    • Philip Tarrant

      I agree there’s some discrepancy there, and Lance has looked bad on defense quite a few times the last two games. He needs to stay honest and play the tough defense he’s capable of playing from the get-go and not give these players the open looks they need to get going. I’m not saying that he didn’t run into guys playing over their head and making ridiculous shots, but his defense hasn’t been as disciplined as it should be. He’s capable of driving guys off their shots and hasn’t been forcing bad shots early.

  • Ian

    We totally got bailed out on that 3. I feel like the foul was when George was going around the screen, not when he actually shot the 3. Felt like the Larry Johnson 4 point play in a lot of ways.

    I am so annoyed at the NBA replay system. Its incredibly arbitrary. For example, if two players are going for the ball and it goes out, they review it to see who hit it. Now, if player A knocks it out because player B whacks his arm, the officials can’t assign a foul retroactively, so they have to say its out off of A. Which is ridiculous. Likewise, they could have (but didn’t) review to see if George’s foot was on the line for the 4 point play, but if the review showed no foul, then they can’t change that.

    Anyways, it seems for the 2nd straight game the Pacers ran into a guy playing out of his mind. First it was most of the Suns, now it’s Thorton. There’s only so much you can do against someone whose that in the zone. I did not see most of the first half, did they not think of switching PG on Thorton?

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