Player Grades: Rockets liftoff in win over Pacers


The Indiana Pacers almost pulled off another improbable win late, but the Houston Rockets were too much to overcome.

For the fourth game in a row, the Indiana Pacers found themselves in a close game at the end of the fourth quarter. Unlike the last few, though, this one did not go the Pacers way.

The Houston Rockets are a very good basketball team, and James Harden is an incredible player. When he is doing things like this, it is impossible to beat him:

The Pacers had a chance in the fourth quarter, but ultimately the Rockets were too much:

98. 169. 94. 100. Final

James Harden is a machine

You know how many times I would feel like the Pacers had James Harden stopped? That they had cut off all of his options and that he was screwed? Then, miraculously, Harden would throw up a perfect lob or can a perfect step back and make it look so effortless.

Harden was the beneficiary of two questionable at best foul calls, but he made all of his free throws and hit 5/12 threes. How do you even guard this guy? The answer is very carefully, and the Pacers weren’t careful enough.

You have to make your free throws

Before this game, the Pacers ranked 27th in the league with a free throw percentage of 70.9. In this game, they made 66.7 percent, missing 10 of their 30 free throws. When you miss 10 from the charity stripe and lose by 4? That’s the game right there.

It is shocking and inexplicable. The Pacers made 77.9 percent of their foul shots last year, good for 11th in the league. Suddenly, they can’t get them to go. It is incredibly puzzling, and it needs to be fixed.

Nothing can stop Victor Oladipo

Another game, another incredible Vic performance. After sinking Boston just two nights before, Victor Oladipo was so close to saving the Pacers yet again. He matched Harden blow for blow down the stretch, only to be bested by some incredible defense by PJ Tucker. Oladipo is just unstoppable with the game on the line, and he should get the ball every time down the stretch.

I wasn’t really sure what to say about Collison. He had a tough defensive game and was somewhat invisible on offense in this one. He’s had better and worse games, but the Rockets found a way to take him out of the game.. PG. Indiana Pacers. DARREN COLLISON. C

Indiana Pacers. VICTOR OLADIPO. A. Legitimate MVP candidate. Next.. SG

C -. The shot wasn’t falling for Bogey tonight thanks to some good defense by James Ennis. He also missed one-third of his FTs. He was adequate, but not enough for a team that needed him to be more.. SF. Indiana Pacers. BOJAN BOGDANOVIC

B +. A team-high 11 rebounds and a season-high intensity. Thad was unhappy with the refs and upped his intensity to match his anger. He was good on both ends tonight.. PF. Indiana Pacers. THADDEUS YOUNG

C. Capela ate Turner alive on the glass, but Turner was the best defensive player on the team tonight and forced the Rockets to kick out of WAY more drives than they normally do. He was weak in just about every other area, but his interior D was fine.. C. Indiana Pacers. MYLES TURNER

Sabonis had no fouls!! Rejoice. That is usually his biggest flaw. Most of the things that usually plague Sabonis (fouls and turnovers) he avoided tonight. He was really good.. C. Indiana Pacers. DOMANTAS SABONIS. A -

C +. Tyreke was… fine? He was having trouble finishing and his free throws weren’t falling, but his 3 ball was and his defense was adequate. He even came in the game to close and help out on offense in the final minute. His role is important.. SG. Indiana Pacers. TYREKE EVANS

B -. Yucky offensive game for CoJo (0 points) but great defensive game for CoJo. If you can have a bad offensive game and still be a +4, you’re doing something right. I think having Joseph in down the stretch for his D would have been a fine idea. Alas.. PG. Indiana Pacers. CORY JOSEPH

SF. Indiana Pacers. DOUG MCDERMOTT. D. He hit one three! They passed him the ball! Other than that, tough one from McDermott, who had two uncharacteristic turnovers and couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm.

Leaf continues to be pleasantly surprising by being not awful, which is a big step for him. +3 in 11 minutes for the Leafster, who might be cementing his role as a 10 minutes per game guy. That will help him develop more than his lack of playing time last year.. PF. Indiana Pacers. TJ LEAF. C

I am going to cheat and give the coach a grade. I know one point ended up being a huge deal, but I liked McMillan getting a tech when he did. The team was frustrated by the officiating, and McMillan’s shared frustrations calmed everyone else down. I liked the rotation tonight too outside of closing with DC over CoJo. Honestly, it’s easy to be a coach from twitter and obviously Nate knows best. But I agreed with his decisions more than most people tonight and I wanted to write about it.. Coach. Indiana Pacers. NATE MCMILLAN. B

Next. Joe Young is dominating everyone in China. dark

The Pacers will look to start a new winning streak on Wednesday against the Philadephia 76ers. That game is at home. Go cheer on the Pacers.