West's touchdown pass to Green didn't shock me . It was just...
One Third Worse Than The Magic
Vince Carter can shoot. The Pacers…ehhh….not so much.
The shot chart for the third quarter last night looked like this:
The four makes at the top are all Vince Carter, with three of them in succession giving Orlando their first double digit lead. This shot chart is why the game flow from last night looked like this:
From a 49-49 tie, the Pacers fell behind by 20 with dizzying speed, a third quarter performance reminiscent of their alarming pattern of two years ago. The game was within reach, and then it was gone. Lost amid of flurry of Orlando 3′s and Pacer misses. The final score of the game is without meaning, but here’s some of what I saw:
Follow Ups (from Yesterday’s Post)
The Young Guys – The line up over the last 8 minutes featured A.J. Price, Lance Stephenson, Paul George, Tyler Hansbrough, and Magnum Rolle. They outscored Orlando 20-9, but it was pretty much garbage time. Price scored 15 points in 19 minutes, and did look pretty healthy for a guy who had a major knee injury this summer. Lance Stephenson looks like an NBA-level scorer, but he’s still a one-on-one guy, and he seems a long way away from knowing how to play within the framework of a team. Magnum Rolle is definitely…ummm….slender, but he was active and had a very, very nice block. Also, the guy has incredible hands. My brother first pointed out to me during the summer league, but last night, he one-handed a fastball Stephenson whipped at him from about 6 feet away. I’ll speak to George and Hansbrough later.
Paul George – Going from 2-for-9 to 1-for-8 isn’t exactly what you call a positive trend. He seemed to be “aiming” his shot, and definitely adjusting to the NBA game. He had a very nice stop-and-go that was for naught as he seemed almost surprised to have a wide open 10 footer that he tried to guide into the goal, instead of just shooting it. Defensively, he was active and looked to have the tools to be a good defender, but didn’t have a great sense of where to be. He gave up a couple of second quarter jumpers to Vince Carter, when he got ball gawking, and couldn’t get back when the ball reversed. There’s a lot to like there, but I don’t know how quickly he’ll put it together.
The Post and the Pick – I charted the first half, before I succumbed to my desire to just sit and watch. (I did, however, raise a few Snakebites later at Claddagh in honor of the guys who do the thankless job for sites like Hoopdata and Synergy.) In any case, the news about the Post is pretty positive. In terms of pure touches, it seems O’Brien is serious about Hibbert being important. I counted 9 touches for Roy in the high post, where his role will be as a passer and jump shooter. He also had 9 touches in the low post, scoring 8 points and drawing two fouls. The Pick had less success, as I saw several ball screens, but only three that constituted real PnR action. To me, it seemed that the players were still getting used to where each other was going to be on the floor. I can think of three separate occasions where a pretty pick, a pretty move, and a pretty pass resulted in a turnover because those involved were just the tiniest bit out of sync. Hopefully, this will settle in as the players get to know each other better.
Josh-a-Roy – What I saw looked good. These two look like a very good pairing at the big position. Unfortunately, McRoberts missed the entire second half with a neck injury. This is concerning, as he is not making the trip to Houston tonight. Hopefully, this will not cost him a lot of time. The five-man unit of Hibbert-McRoberts-Granger-Dunleavy-Collison has looked promising, but they really need time together on the court to gel.
The Glass – Half-empty would be an optimistic measure. The Pacers were pounded on the glass last night, 53-40. James Posey and Paul George were tied for team high with 5 apiece, but Jim O’Brien and Larry Bird were forced to buy back their bigs from Ryan Anderson for a couple of cartons of Luckies. This was just a rough count on my part, but Ryan Anderson had 4,356 rebounds last night.
What I didn’t like/What I liked
What I didn’t like about the Defense – First and foremost, it is ultimately self-defeating if you force misses, but you cannot get the rebound. The 72% is an improvement over the 63% from the other night, but not good enough is not good enough. Also, I’m concerned about a potential design flaw. The weakside players for the Pacers’ D were sagging very deep, cheating often to the block, and occasionally actually crossing the imaginary line that runs from rim to rim. As a result, they were burned on reversals several times. I cannot tell how much of this is actual design, and how much is execution. Granger, Dunleavy, and George all were guilty of this. It seems pretty risky to me.
What I liked about the Defense - In the first half, the team was very agressive and active. I didn’t track them, but in the second quarter, it seemed like the Pacers were getting deflections almost every time down the floor.
What I didn’t like about the Offense - Only 12 assists. The main point guards – Collison and Price – combined for 2 assists against 21 shots. The team did a very poor job of creating shots. Mike Dunleavy seemed be doing an homage to the absent Brandon Rush (still no clue why), as he only managed on FGA in 27 minutes of play. Not acceptable from the shooting guard position.
What I liked about the Offense – I loved that they focused on getting the ball to Hibbert so much. With Collison, Price, and Stephenson, the Pacers have more players capable of creating shots for themselves than they’ve had in years. The first unit showed a lot of promise in the post, the PnR, and overall movement.
What I didn’t like about Tyler Hansbrough – In my mind, there is no other word for the way Tyler played than “scared.” Yeah. I know. Shocked me, too. He was tentative, bordering on passive, and looked completely lost. Arguably, this is understandable given the nature of his injury/illness, and the amount of time he’s missed. However, this is Tyler Hansbrough. Scared, tentative, and passive are words I’d never thought I’d use to describe a guy I christened “Buckaroo Banzai” last season.
What I liked about Tyler Hansbrough – In the fourth quarter, it seemed he got out of his head, and played much better. True, he was playing against Orlando’s C squad, but he was aggressive and forceful. He took a lob from Hibbert for a layup in a nice high-low play that has promise with Roy and both Tyler and McRoberts. He’ll get another long look tonight at Houston, and that could tell us a lot about both his game and his recovery.
What I didn’t like about the game in general - Vince Carter…I never liked Vince Carter. James Posey looks very, very slow, and he is almost exclusively a spot up three-point shooter at this point. There were two technicals on players in the second quarter, both amazingly cheap. I’m hoping that this will just be a sharp wrap on the nose for the preseason, but they’ll tone it down come the real games. It’s going to be really, really irritating, otherwise.
What I liked about the game in general – The first unit looks sound, and Roy Hibbert and Darren Collison are establishing themselves as foundation players on this roster. If this team gets good, then Area 55 will irritate the living she-poopie out of visiting teams.
I don’t have a lot on tonight’s game. It’s regrettable that Josh McRoberts won’t be available, but most of the things we want to find out about the team are standing questions. Every game brings more chances for us to understand the team, and for the team to understand itself. Going from bad to good will be an evolution, not a revolution for the Pacers.
Two guys who I’m thrilled to see back on a basketball court. Injuries suck.