Next-Day Thoughts: Before the Collapse
The video above depicts the moment when the Pacers completely lost all control of the game. The descent began a little earlier, but this beastly, and-one finish by Tyreke Evans hyped up the Kings faithful and pushed all the momentum to the Sacramento side of the ledge. It’s only fitting that ‘Reke’s flurry to the hoop was spurred on by the two critical elements of Indy’s collapse: an offensive board and a Paul George mistake. It’s not that this is a horrible gamble for a steal here by George; it’s just that it was a failed one and it seemed to incite Evans to dash to the abandon his plans to just calmly reset the offense in favor of ‘Reking havoc, if you will. (You shouldn’t.)
Of course, the Pacers meltdown is the only real takeaway from this game. But there actually were three other quarters prior to that. Here are a few thoughts from the parts of the game that nobody will ever remember.
- The first two possessions led to two power post moves for effortless buckets by Roy Hibbert. Later in the first quarter, he made an even more savvy decision, splitting a double-team with a step-through to the rim for a lay-up.
- David West was not good early. He had two turnovers in the first three minutes of the game — one of which would have led to a sure two points after a nice look-ahead pass by Paul George — and followed that up by missing a reverse layup.
- On offense, Indiana attached the paint early to a degree that was shocking. Their first field goal attempt outside the lane didn’t come until Darren Collison hit a 20-footer with 5:28 to play in the 1st quarter. Before that bucket, they were leading 15-10 on the strength of their 6-for-11 shooing in the paint (plus 3-for-3 at the line). It looked like a concerted effort. Here’s their shot chart at that point.
- Other than the guards dumping it down for those nice post moves from Hibbert, part of this trend was Danny Granger getting into the restricted area. His first three shots were right around at the rim and he made two of them, including one he converted into three-point play. The rest of his first stint of the game didn’t go so well, however, as he only managed to hit those 2 out of his first 7 shots.
- The Pacers held the Kings to 33.3% (18-for-54) shooting in first half. But they once again couldn’t turn that good defense into “finished possessions,” instead allowing Sacramento to grab 19 first-half ORBs on their 36 misses. That percentageis WAY too high. The board work was mostly being done by DeMarcus Cousins (who was an absolute animal, grabbing 10 ORBs and getting his hands on many others) and Jason Thompson (who collected 5 of Sacto’s misses). The Pacers were pretty decent on the offensive glass themselves, which isn’t surprising since these two teams were the third- and fourth-best offensive rebounding squads in the association going into the game. As Tim noted on Twitter: “22 of the first 46 rebounds in the Pacers-Kings game have been offensive. Kings 3rd in ORB%, Pacers 4th.”
- In Indiana’s defense, they also did seem to be trying to find ways to exploit Sacramento’s aggressiveness on the glass. Twice in the first half, Pacer players successfully leaked out and got breakaway scores. (It would have been three times but there’s that West mishandle in the video above.) The Lance full-court outlet to George Hill is just amazing. If that had been Dwyane to LeBron, it would have been all over SportsCenter. West to George for the dunk with flair was also nice.
- Granger opened the second half in a completely opposite way from how he started the game. He began with a horrible step-back for a long two-pointer that missed badly. Then, on a Collison-led 3-on-2 break, DC gave Danny the ball on the wing. He dribbled towards the rim then bounced it off his foot into a turnover.
- After that, however, the third quarter was all gold for the Pacers. During the period, they had a 7-0 run, a 6-0 run, a 5-0 run and a 6-1 run.
- A ton of this had to do with Collison, who played the whole quarter and ran the team so well that I would argue it might have been his best 12-minute stretch so far as a Pacer. If not that, at least his most steady and mistake-free. He did no wrong and scored 13 points on 5-for-6 FG and 2-for-2 FT. He took a charge. He only had 1 assist but a lot of offense-producing passes. DC also has 0 turnovers for the game. Going into the fourth, he was a +17.