Post Game Grades: Pacers Block Magic for Opening Night Victory
The first first quarter of the 2013-14 NBA season featured a 12-0 open by the Pacers and an 18-9 finish by the Magic. There were 11 turnovers and 28 missed shots, with a side of erratic bench play thrown in, just for flavor.
Yes, ladies and gentleman, Pacer basketball is back.
And while the first half of tonight’s 97-87 Indiana victory showed some of last year’s “bad” – anemic offense (88/100), poor ball control (13 turnovers), bench blahs (reserves outscored 27-5) – the second half brought last year’s good, along with some promise.
The defense was stifling pretty much until garbage time, allowing only 81 points per 100 possessions on .419 eFG% through the first 41 minutes of the game. The starting unit was dominant again, posting a +10 in only 17 minutes together, holding the Magic to a stunning 58 points per 100 in that time. (For reference, that roughly a bucket ever four (1,2,3,4) possessions).
Perhaps the most encouraging thing was the 17-4 run to open the fourth quarter. It was orchestrated – for the most part – by a lineup consisting of C.J. Watson, Orlando Johnson, Lance Stephenson, Luis Scola, and Ian Mahinmi. The only real scare after that was when Roy Hibbert went down, clutching his knee. Fortunately, that proved to be a false alarm.
Orlando is likely to be a bad team, and that is demonstrated contrasting the 18 blocks Indiana collected to the 10 free throws attempted by the Magic. So, there’s only so much you can take from this. The good news, however, is that you can take a win, and that will be of some value.
|David West, PF 31 MIN | 4-11 FG | 5-5 FT | 5 REB | 3 AST | 2 STL | 5 BLK | 5 TO | 13 PTS | +11
Struggled with turnovers (team high 5) and his shot, but matched his career high with 5 blocks.
|Paul George, SF 36 MIN | 8-16 FG | 5-7 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 4 TO | 24 PTS | +11
Looked like a number 1 option out there, with 24 points. Hit a huge three at end of third to help spur the 21-4 run the game open. Had three turnovers in first half (causing the minus), but none in the second.
|Roy Hibbert, C 27 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-4 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 7 BLK | 3 TO | 8 PTS | +15
The important part is that his knee is fine, and he’ll play tomorrow. Had 16 boards and 7 blocks, which is a night full of work, but only 1 board came in his 10 second half minutes. Looked mechanical and timid offensively, but still important defensively.
|George Hill, PG 29 MIN | 2-8 FG | 3-4 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +5
Didn’t do much of note.Needs to hit the open looks.
|Lance Stephenson, SG 36 MIN | 8-12 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 19 PTS | +11
Outstanding start to his fourth season, scoring efficiently, getting to the rim (5/5 in the restricted area) and even nailing a couple of threes from above the break.
|Luis Scola, PF 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -2
Solid, if unspectacular Pacer debut for the Argentinian vet. Hit some key buckets, scoring 6 points in the Pacer 17-4 run to start the 4th. Would like to see more than 1 board and 1 assist, though.
|Solomon Hill, SF 8 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -10
10th man in a 10-man rotation. Only player with a sizable negative +/-, but not sure how much anyone should be expecting of him at this stage of his career.
|Ian Mahinmi, C 17 MIN | 0-1 FG | 4-6 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | -1
Not much of a line, but solid in reserve.
|C.J. Watson, PG 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | +2
Decidedly, not DJ, but also, nothing to write home about.
|Rasual Butler, SG 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3
|Orlando Johnson, SG 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +11
Very nice line for the second year player. Like Scola, he scored 6 points in the Pacers 17-4 4th quarter run
The Pacers are brutally effective – but not efficient – and that’s a big part of why they trailed at the half. Vogel, as usual, calmed the team down, allowing the Pacers to take control in the second half.