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I’m just going to go ahead and warn everybody up front tonight if you’re looking for deep thoughts and non-biased analysis of the game I suggest you skip my entire post.
This may be the single biggest homer post I have ever done in my life and I don’t apologize for any of it.
To say that this was a big win is like saying that beating the Japanese Navy at the battle of Midway was big. Yea, it kind of is that big in terms of our team.
This win not only improves our record it does the one thing that no other victory (no matter how good or by how much) has done this season. It gives us legitimacy.
This wasn’t just any team and this wasn’t in just any arena. Yes they are not nearly as good as they have been in the past and yes this was their third loss in a row. But this was only their second loss at home since they opened there (they had won 9 in a row) and we all know that they did not want to lose their third game. They also had no excuses for injury either, everybody who is somebody for them played. No I don’t think Steve Blake changes the game for them either, no more than Jeff Foster would have for us.
But (and here is where I will lose some of you) what was the most impressive thing to me was that we not only had to battle the Lakers and their crowd but we had officials that were frankly giving them the benefit of every doubt in the first half and totally took us our of our game. To everybody’s credit we fought through and not only came back we over came them.
Do you understand this; we overcame the Lakers and poor officiating to start the game. No Pacers team in the past decade could have done that. Yes, IMO, even the mid 2000’s teams would not have been able to recompose themselves to come back and win this game.
Also this took this road trip from a losing west coast trip, which we are all used to, to a winning west coast trip which is a rarity for us. While I’m pointing this out I also want to point out that it took a total collapse on our part for the Kings to beat us in the first game so we could have swept the trip which when you think about is amazing. But that should not take anything away from tonight’s game.
Maybe I’m just over hyped right now and maybe I’m just putting to much hyperbole on the game but I can’t help but believe that this game was a statement game. Not so much to the Lakers or maybe even not that much to the league, but this was a statement game for us. We can beat anybody anywhere when we play as a team, play aggressively on both ends of the court and share the ball.
Let’s do tonight’s Odd thoughts in grade form.
Roy Hibbert: A+ Herb Simon by all rights should just meet the team at the airport with a check in hand. Max player and tonight he showed why he will get that kind of money. When he comes back in the game we start the comeback. I kept saying during the 4th quarter Howard vs. Bynum my ***, it may come down now to Howard vs. Hibbert. Ok we all know who wins that but I’m telling you Andrew Bynum was outplayed tonight. His interview after the game was over when he said that they told him not to play but he told them he had to play to help the team only went so far as to secure himself in Pacers legend and lore. If we were all Klingons we would be writing both songs and opera’s about the heroic battle of L.A. where Roy of house Hibbert stood his ground against many armed only with a bat’leth and secured victory for the Pacers Empire. Roy tonight took the leap from good guy center who most people loved because he was really a nice guy and player to Roy Hibbert God amongst men who not only is a nice guy but is a fearless warrior who played through pain to help his team.
Danny Granger: A I’ll not hear another word about this grade, well at least none that I will bother to take seriously. The only reason it’s not an A+ is because he missed so many shots. But his defense all night long was just out of this world good. I mean defensive player of the year good (at least for this night) and he had a pass in the paint to Hibbert for a score that to me shows how much Danny is really trying to change his game to be a bigger team player because he could easily have turned and fired that up. It would be easy to say that you don’t win that game without Roy and you would be right, but this like every game we have won this year has been a team effort because if Danny doesn’t block Bynum at the rim twice and he doesn’t hit those big three’s then you could argue you don’t win either. Also that one where he was called for a foul (I think it was vs. Barnes) was complete and utter B.S. He got all ball so he should have had 4 blocks and should have been credited for a steal against MWP.
Paul George: A Dude was guarding Kobe “F’n” Bryant. Kobe got his 30 but took 30 shots to get it and I am pretty sure that he only scored 2 points in the 4th quarter. I know Hill had some of that but for Paul to come home and have to play against his idol and play as well as he did deserves big kudos. Also thank you for having the courtesy to dunk the ball tonight. I think David West got on him that last game and Paul tonight did not give us any of the dipsy doo scoop shots that he has been trying. Also he moved a lot on offense without the ball. The play where Collison hit that three on a pass from Roy was created because Paul was cutting and took Darren’s man with him. A far far cry from that Sacramento game.
Darren Collison: A Ice water in his veins. Two free throws to get us the lead with all of the pressure in the world on him and he sinks both of them like they were nothing. His grade is higher because of his free throw shooting. Because he missed Danny on a wide open 3 on 2 fast break for a layup and instead threw it to Paul George for a three that he missed. But he did a decent job of at least outplaying the geriatric Fisher and while he turned the ball over more than you are used to getting from him he did a decent job of pacing the game in the second half.
David West: B+ If I were grading by halves his first half would have been at least an A and the second half a B-. He was aggressive in the first half on the offensive end and kept us in the game. In the second half his offense went away but he had some very timely rebounds and did a very good job of keeping Gasol off of the scoreboard for the entire game, although Pau had a near triple double himself. This continues to be a terrific pick up for the Pacers in the off season. Far more than I ever expected it to be.
Dahntay Jones: B+ Look I know there are a lot of you that don’t like him and believe me I understand why. But there are times when someone like him is exactly what the Doctor orders and tonight was one of those times. I think he played a very efficient game myself. He hit shots but just as importantly drew fouls and went to the line and made his free throws. 11 points in 14 min. is not bad at all and then he also gave you 5 boards with that. In fact this grade is really probably to low.
George Hill: B He can thank the referee’s for that grade. They took him out of the game early on with at least one call that I could not believe they gave to him. However once again he proved to be our sharpshooter off of the bench and the reason I keep saying over and over again, we don’t need Jamaal Crawford. George is giving it all to you and great defense to boot. This trade was great for both teams but I believe that overall value as of today goes to us as he has been huge in several victory’s already this season. His three point shooting tonight was both timely and huge because it forced L.A. to step out and guard him.
Tyler Hansbrough: C Obviously something is wrong. His eye is either still bothering him or I fear he may be having some long term issues with the vertigo from taking another hit to the head. But to his credit even though he couldn’t hit the ocean from a boat tonight he still went after the boards and the single most amazing thing was that we had him guarding Bynum whenever he and West were in together and Andrew did not back him down. He was able for the most part keep Bynum out of the lanes when he had him one on one. Also there was a funny moment when Troy made a lame attempt to try and get the ball off of a rebound from Tyler and Tyler just vice gripped it and Troy slowly backed away.
Lance Stephenson: C Stop passing the damn ball to Lou. There is a reason he is open. I mean in a lot of ways it’s not Lance’s fault because he has thrown some beautiful passes that should have resulted in scores but the recipient is not the right person. Other than that hit his one attempt from the field and made his two free throws. He contributed to the team and as time goes on he may contribute more.
Lou Amundson: D Lou Lou Lou…. Unless you have a wide open dunk please for the love of all that his holy pass the ball. I mean I love what he brings to the floor other than that. He is just a slightly shorter version of Foster so you get the same kind of play from him but just not on the same level. But Jeff has learned over the years to get the ball out of his hands as fast as he can and Lou needs to learn this. Josh McRoberts thanks you for the sportscenter highlight block he got.
Frank Vogel: A+++ If he did nothing else other than stand over there and give them a pep talk when they got down it would have probably been good enough. But on top of that he made adjustments to the lineups tonight that he didn’t make in Sacramento and it paid off right away. I think so often we get wrapped up in the fact that this is such a nice guy and positive influence that we probably overlook the fact that the guy can really coach. He understands the game and obviously understands his players and that is all that you can ask for from a coach.
Huge win, I mean mega huge win for this team.
We are for real
Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13