Post-Game Grades: Pacers Mail One in but Still Squeak Past Bobcats
This isn’t a game Pacers’ fans will want to use to convince skeptics that Indiana will win the title this year. The team’s greatest strength, its defense, was largely absent throughout, and the result was a high-scoring game between the first- and fourth-hardest teams to score against in the NBA.
To this watcher, it appeared as though Indiana was disinterested in locking in. At least in the first half. Over the initial 24 minutes, Charlotte made 22-of-44 shots (including 3-of-7 three-pointers) on its way to 55 points. This, against a team that held the back-to-back-title-winning Miami Heat to 54 points over the final 36 minutes in Tuesday’s win. You don’t want to discount the good play and shot-making by the Bobcats, but look at their shot chart.
Sure, it looks like plenty of red and yellow (meaning below and around league average, respectively), but 10 of their 22 makes (and 15 of their 44 attempts) were in the restricted area, where they shot 66.6%. On the season, opponents have only made 52.5% in the restricted area against Indiana.
Such a disparity screams a lack of focus, as does the film.
Here is a list of the restricted area makes from the Bobcats in the first half:
- an easy Josh McRoberts putback dunk,
- an Al Jefferson drop-step layup,
- an uncontested Ramon Sessions layup as he drove by two Pacers late in the shot clock,
- a Bismack Biyombo follow layup after Indiana didn’t get back well on a slow break,
- an uncontested Sessions layup in transition as he knifed by stationary defenders,
- a nice finish at the cup, plus the foul, by Cody Zeller after his first interior shot was blocked,
- another Biyombo follow layup plus the foul,
- a highly contested rim finish by Ben Gordon that was quite impressive,
- a wide-open Jeff Taylor dunk after Paul George left him all alone under the rim, and
- a Jeff Adrien layup plus the foul after nobody thought he was a threat two feet from the hoop
There were altogether too many easy looks, too many second-chance points and too many lazy fouls.
It didn’t get much better in the second half, but I’m not going to break down every play in the whole game. Just know that there were still several dunks, and perimeter players continually split Indiana’s attempts to cover the pick and roll.
To be fair, the Pacers did force more turnovers in the second half and they did cleaned things up late. Plus, some of the first-half blunders can perhaps be blamed on the fact that Rasual Butler played more minutes over two quarters (16) than he had in the past 22 games combined (15).
But more than anything, this just looked like a team that knew it was better than its opponent and had spent the past four days beating the world champs and hanging out with Justin Timberlake.
Really, this isn’t anything to worry about.
Indiana did enough late to win, and extended their league-best record to a remarkable 20-3. It’s just that in a season that is going this well, an effort like this is what passes for a bump in the road.
And regardless of the quality of play, at least one fan had a great time in The Fieldhouse tonight. Nice seats.
— Helton© (@_Thirst48) December 14, 2013
Here is how each guy played individually tonight. Agree? Disagree? Express your thoughts below in the comments or yell at Twitch on twitter (@Twitch8p9s) who filled in today.
|David West, PF 33 MIN | 5-11 FG | 4-4 FT | 8 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +18
Made some nice shots and made Josh McRoberts look like a little kid getting posted up by his pops in the driveway. Defense was lackluster.
|Paul George, SF 37 MIN | 2-12 FG | 5-8 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | +13
I didn’t comb through the whole game log or nothing but this has to be his worst game of the year. Defense was lackluster.
|Roy Hibbert, C 35 MIN | 6-14 FG | 6-6 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +9
Scored pretty well, and was more active than most of his teammates. But by his standards, defense was lackluster and had some foul trouble.
|George Hill, PG 34 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 0 TO | 13 PTS | +16
Made some threes. Defense was lackluster.
|Lance Stephenson, SG 35 MIN | 9-14 FG | 1-2 FT | 11 REB | 7 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 20 PTS | +7
Game ball. Made a bunch of nice moves and some slick passes. Defense was lackluster.
|Luis Scola, PF 16 MIN | 5-8 FG | 1-3 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -11
Good thing he showed up because few others were scoring. Defense was lackluster.
|Ian Mahinmi, C 13 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -6
Gross. Couldn’t stop fouling and defense was lackluster.
|C.J. Watson, PG 14 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTS | -10
Defense was lackluster.
|Rasual Butler, SG 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -11
A few missteps, clearly needs some more game minutes to get his conditioning back and defense was lackluster. But when you can enter the rotation for the first time this year in game 23 and add 8 much-needed points, all else is forgiven.