Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…………If you listen very carefully in the background you will hear the sound of a cash register ringing up kind of like in the song “money” by Pink Floyd. That is the sound of the contract inching every so slightly upward towards that upper tier contract range for Roy Hibbert. Much like when a bell rings an angel gets his wings, well when Roy gets a double/double he gets another 50k added to his contract and so far he is racking up the points.
A young 7’2” center with a renowned work ethic that is now averaging a double/double and is a decent defender? You better bet someone is going to throw mad crazy money at him this off season and will then force the Pacers to make a very tough decision. It probably won’t be that tough, I suspect we will match whatever he is offered but then our cap space that we have worked so hard to get will definitely be less than what we were hoping for.
I’m saying all of this after a night that Roy frankly played good, but not great. However that is part of the problem, from one point of view, or blessing from another point of view. He didn’t play all that great but still got a double/double leading everybody in rebounding. Great for the team because we won and he was a large part of it, bad though from that aspect that this will just go further to elevate that contract.
I’m not complaining mind you, in fact I love that our center is now actually leading the rebounding efforts on most nights and is in there boarding every night even if he isn’t leading. I just fear what it is going to cost us.
Moving on up, let’s talk about the game itself.
First and foremost I always like to give credit to the opposition whenever I can, in particular when I respect an opponent. Having said that Ray Allen is a hell of a shooter.
Beyond that there are players on the Boston Celtics that I won’t miss when they are gone. Kevin Garnett has been a punk in the NBA for a few years now and tonight I thought that Rondo’s taunting of Paul George at the beginning of the game was a little un called for.
But I will miss Paul Pierce least of all. In the post game he gave us no credit at all, none. Now that is fine, I can live with the fact that they just missed some open shots and I don’t expect him to claim that Granger shut him down but to outright dismiss our team the way he did was pretty typical of this guy. My disdain for him runs way back to when he got down and did pushups at the free throw line in Indianapolis years ago. Now that I think about hit his coach at the time was O’Brien so no wonder I hate the guy. He is a talented scorer, no doubt. But his overall game is not all that special and frankly he has been a loud mouthed braggart since he has come into the NBA.
Oh well why be bitter at the losers, that’s right Boston you are the losers. You didn’t play well or we outplayed you makes not a single difference in the world, we still won and the record now shows it.
This game said a lot about the character of the team and frankly said a lot about the coach and coaching staff to have them mentally ready to come back from that debacle on Wednesday and enter a place we haven’t won in five years and beat a team that had won 4 in a row.
I think Vogel set the tone early when he told the team to match the defensive intensity of the Celtics and to the players credit they did. We won that game, no matter what Paul Pierce thinks, by playing stellar defense in the second half and really superb defense to close out the game in the 4th. The Celtics had to pass through a gauntlet of defenders and the long arm of George Hill & the quick hands of Danny Granger made this task very difficult indeed.
Tonight I think we will do our narrative in grade form. I’ll admit I’m probably a pretty easy grader so I will probably give higher marks than some of you think they deserve.
Oh and before I get going I want to mention this one little thing that did seem to concern me, tonight I started noticing that David West was limping or at the very least favoring one leg over the other. Not sure if his knee is starting to tighten up or if it’s just conditioning and he will come around, but it is something I noticed.
Darren Collison: A- Sparked a run and kept the Celtics at bay by hitting some very timely jumpers and then nailed the door shut on them with his big 3 pointer. I’d say he played Rondo about evenly all night long and by no means was embarrassed by him. If players on our team could hit open shots faster he would have more assists, but as it is I like the way he played
Paul George: C+ Got lost way to many times on Ray Allen to be excused. Once sure, but Ray will make you pay for playing off of him. Which is what happened tonight. He shot well from the floor but he had a couple of fouls late in the game that made you scratch your head and also brought the return of George Hill. He did tonight though have his first curl off of a screen for a jumper of the season that I can remember, which thrilled me because nobody is really going to block that shot.
Roy Hibbert: B+ I think the one thing that nobody really give Roy enough credit for anymore is the fact that while he still plays solid defense he almost never gets in foul trouble. You can tell the extra weight is paying some dividends for him as O’Neal was not able to completely move him off of the post like he has in previous years. His rebounding is actually unreal as I never would have dreamed this guy would be averaging double figures for a season. The only thing stopping him from an A was his shot making and a little selection. Other than that he had a great game including some very sharp passes for easy layups.
David West: C- Yea I might be a little tough on him here but frankly I would have like to have seen more. I like the 10 boards but man I don’t know if we can go very often with 2 points from him. I do realize though that Garnett is a tough matchup for him, he’s longer and every bit as strong so David pretty much becomes a mid range jump shooter against him and right now David is not hitting those very often. Like I said I was concerned about the limp but I’m not that worried about him, in fact that really kind of tells you something about our team in general when our big free agent doesn’t do really much but we still get the big road win.
Danny Granger: A- Suck it haters, that’s right I’m giving Danny an A-, you give him an F if you want. Danny never gave up, he was on Pierce all night long and although his shot is still just not dropping yet he got to the line and made all of his free throws. I’m telling you though his defense in the 4th quarter as much as anything else is the reason we won that game. That pass to Collison in the end, does he not get credit from any of you who claim he is nothing but a chucker? That shot sealed the game but that shot was set up by the extra pass from Danny.
Let’s do the bench, but before we do let’s all join together and rejoice at the return of the dancing of the fruit to the Odd Thoughts.
George Hill: A This is the George Hill we have been waiting on. Yes he hit his shots and that is always a bonus from any player but my God his defense was superb to end the game. I would love to see the amount of deflections that our team had in general to be honest with you. But he was glued to Ray Allen (who once again is a hell of a shooter) to end the game and man. When your bench player produces at this level good things will happen.
Tyler Hansbrough: B Sorry Tyler isn’t getting anything higher until he drops his first dime of the season. Really, he can’t even accidently get an assist? I don’t have the energy to look it up but is he the player who has played the most min. on the floor this season without an assist in the entire NBA? Usually he does pretty poorly when matched up with Garnett but tonight he was able to get angles and generally abused Brandon Bass. He got to the line and made most of his free throws so that always helps. Rebounding wasn’t great but there were so many players on our team grabbing boards that it was a team effort on the glass tonight.
Jeff Foster: A Exactly what you want from your backup center. Smart play, hard defense, and tough rebounds. I think he and Lou will probably tag team games the rest of the season, in other words Jeff will play a few then Lou will play a few, etc. But when Jeff is on the floor good things happen, now somebody get him an oxygen tank and some Ben Gay.
A.J. Price: A- Sookie rejoice your man has returned. Amazing what happens when you are away from a coach who tells his point guards that they are not to actually direct the offense but are to shoot. I’m saying it now, I have to think Lance is being forced down Frank’s throat by upper management because as the playoffs showed us last year and this game tonight reconfirmed A.J. runs the second unit very well and his ability to score, something that Lance has yet to show, is a great benefit when the offense stalls.
Dahntay Jones: B Don’t look now but quietly Dahntay has had three games in a row now where he didn’t force up bad shots. There were two tonight that were not great shots but one he was wide open for the three so you can’t fault him for taking it and the other the clock was running down so he forced up a bad shot. But he did a very good job on the glass and for the most part did a good job on defense. Often times I was confused as to who he was supposed to be guarding but I’m pretty sure he was supposed to be on Pierce however he got caught on two switches and ended up being burned by Ray Allen (did I mention he was a hell of a shooter). I’m just not sure if it was his fault or not. Either way though I think he has really gone out of his way to draw back the head down full speed ahead attack the rim shots that he was trying early on.
This was just a good overall team win. It does say something about the character of this team that they did come back from that beat down to play this way and I think both players and coaches deserve credit for it.
2-2 road trip and 5-2 overall, I’ll take that.
But the euphoria is only good until 7:10 p.m. tonight when we tip vs. the Bobcats.