Ok, since we didn’t get together prior to the game to make a wager (thank God or I would be broke) I thought I’d still own up to this and give Seth credit for calling the win here.
Beating Portland was a good win, they are a really bad team right now but it still was a good win.
Beating the 76ers tonight was not a good win. This was an outstanding win and maybe even a little bit of a statement win. Does anybody believe that it was a coincidence that when the 76ers beat us in Philly at the beginning of the year that George Hill & Danny Granger didn’t play. Then tonight not only do they play but Danny leads us in scoring and George just plucked their souls right from their chest in the 4th with sharpshooting that would make a Marine Sniper jealous. Not to mention that both of them were second on our club in rebounding with 7.
I will always give them credit for beating us in Philly but in my heart I’ve always put a caveat on that win & tonight was vindication for that.
What makes the win even better was that it was on a national broadcast & for a short while the NBA whether they wanted to or not had to pay attention to both of our teams. Hey we beat Philly but I have no hate for them, they are really a mirror image of our club & more than anything I want a team like one of us (preferably us) to actually get to the finals. Show the world that you don’t have to have the MVP or a big market or a superstar.
However since I was at the game I didn’t get to watch the broadcast so I have no idea if they paid attention to the game or talked about Dwight Howard or Mike D’Antoni all night. I came home from the game and watched NBAtv for two and a half solid hours before they even mentioned our game. They showed highlights of the Bulls/Heat game while it was still in progress mind you & they spent a good hour talking about Howard (which I understand) but when they went and did two segments on the Lakers beating the Hornets in O.T. I about lost my mind. Finally they got to our highlights only to have to hear Shaq spend ĺ of the segment talking about Mark Madsen of all people. Sometimes I just hate the NBA’s marketing. I know they aim for big markets and promote big names but for the love of God until we blew the game open late this was a very good basketball game.
That is really what I want to stress to everyone tonight if you get nothing else from my post. This was an outstanding basketball game between two very evenly matched teams.
We won and we won going away but we are not going to shoot that well from the floor every game. The next game between these two teams will be a war on the court and I expect it to go down to the wire.
Interesting fact of the night, after being slaughtered by the officiating crew in the Blazers game the Indiana Pacers tied the franchise low of 8 personal fouls, yes that is eight. We hit more free throws than the 76ers attempted. What makes this even more remarkable was the fact that we were very active on the defensive end, we just defended without fouling very often. The Granger block on Young was probably a foul though, I haven’t been able to see a replay with a good angle yet, but from the fieldhouse I thought he got him on the body. But it did happen right in front of the ref and he didn’t call it and Young didn’t complain much about it either, so maybe it just looked like a foul and wasn’t.
It goes without saying that George Hill was outstanding and obviously we are a totally different team when he plays, we are in another tier of teams when he plays well.
But his contributions should not completely overshadow the rest of the outstanding play by the bench. Slowly but surely Tyler Hansbrough has now put together a string of decent games. I’ll deal more with him in a moment but I just want to make sure to point out that this is the second game in a row that he has played solid outstanding defense. His rebounding was a little lax but honestly there were not a lot of boards to go around tonight as both teams were shooting lights out.
Lou, A.J. & Dahntay all contributed big when they played as well.
However while I am thrilled with the win and even more thrilled that we beat a good team there were a couple of trouble spots tonight and one that may become a lingering problem that the team will ultimately have to deal with.
Darren Collison was just bad tonight, there is no other way to say it. Every minute he was on the floor was a min. that should have gone to someone else. Not only was he inept at the offensive end but he was just flat out destroyed by Holiday on the defensive end. He is not normally this bad, but he has been in a funk now for a little bit of time and tonight it could have cost us. I don’t believe in the +/- stat but every single pacer had a + rating with the exception of one player, Darren Collison was a 0 on the +/- stat. Again I don’t use that myself but I do point it out tonight just to illustrate that he had a bad game.
His bad game caused Frank to extend A.J. Price’s minutes which was fine because A.J., while once again not being able to hit the ocean from a boat, did play great defense and ran a smooth offense. So why was this a problem you might ask? Well for whatever reason we are now only playing Hill as the backup 2 and not making him a combo guard.
Again, why is this a problem you are going to ask? Well the repercussion of this is that Paul George get’s his min. limited which I’m not sure is good for the franchise in either the long term or the short term to be honest with you.
Paul only played 19 min. tonight and only had 1 foul. Frankly I just don’t see how we can continue this going forward. He is not the franchises future, he is a huge part of the franchise right now. We either need to go back to using Hill as a combo guard or well frankly D.C. needs to go to the bench and sadly although he doesn’t deserve it A.J. needs to go back to the deep rotation. I would not argue against putting D.C. in the deep rotation but I don’t think you can justify taking a starter and doing that to him.
We won and now have won two in a row so all is going to be harmonious in the world but we all know we are not going to go undefeated the rest of the way so I don’t think Paul is going to be very happy playing less than 20 min. a game very often.
Let’s do tonight’s odd thoughts in long form, yea I know we already have.
Danny Granger: I’ll open with a quote from Danny over at Pacers.com “I thought we shot well tonight. I came out on a little bit more of a mission”. I think that mission was that Andre Iguodala made the all-star team while Danny got to have a vacation. Not only did he shoot very well from the floor but Danny was playing defense all night and hitting the glass. Andre hit two three’s but they were both with Danny running in his face. But the main thing for Danny was that he followed the game plan and never once forced it. Early in the game he made it a point to get Roy involved in the early offense posting him and then re posting him for shots. When he blocked that shot he ran down to the other end and was hit in the corner for a three, but instead he dribbled in two steps and hit Hill who hit a three point shot that actually caused the net to burst into flames. Ok so it didn’t burst into flames but it should have. Even though the building erupted, the team on the bench went crazy and other players on the floor were overjoyed there was no happier person in that building that Danny Granger. He pumped his fist and ran back as though he had just hit that shot and while he didn’t he sure created everything that led up to it. Just a great overall game from Danny on a night when we really needed it.
David West: Neutralized Elton Brand and that is no small task. Tonight he was stepping back and hitting the 15-18’ jumper and did combine a few layups in there as well as he and Roy Hibbert combined for an absolutely brilliant play where West cut to the basket and Roy found him from the other side for the reverse hoop. He also did some passing of his own as he had 4 assists for the game. But I think his value tonight was that he knew exactly how to make Brand ineffective by taking him outside of his comfort zone and not allowing him to hang around and block shots.
Roy Hibbert: The team’s goal early on was to establish Roy and while he only hit 3 field goals he was huge in drawing fouls on the 76er big men. Roy had 10 free throw attempts which is a huge number and even better that he hit 8 of them. He also was a factor in making Philly take a few more outside shots than they probably wanted as he blocked 3 of their shots. The one foul that he got was pretty bogus from my angle because I though he got all ball and Iguodala initiated the body contact. Anyway once we had him established Roy then spent a great deal of the game playing point center and actually led our team with 5 assists. That is a testament to how good of a passer he is and how bad our point guard play can be when our starter can’t even get 5 (he got 2).
Paul George: Ok I talked about this above but I’ll address it again. I just don’t see how you can limit him to 19 min. without him either being in foul trouble or struggling. To the best of my knowledge he was doing neither. I know that he had a jumper blocked by Evan Turner but I can’t think that would be enough to merit the benching. When he was on the floor I thought he played very well and once again had a highlight dunk when he fought through a lose ball and a couple of 76ers for it. He missed his free throw shot but we got the rebound. I’ll chalk it up to Hill just having an outstanding game but if they are going to only use him as a two then sadly Dahntay Jones may have to have his min. cut to get Paul more time on the floor.
Darren Collison: The less said the better.
Tyler Hansbrough: I never thought I would live long enough to see Tyler chase Thad Young on the baseline to the middle and rise up and cause Young to alter and take a bad shot. This is the second game in a row that he has stepped up on the defensive end. The fact that he was hitting his shots helped a lot but he can still help the team if he always focuses on defense and rebounding. His shot will come and go but those should remain constant. When both Tyler & George play at this level it puts us right back up into the upper tier of teams because then we legitimately have no let down when our starters go to the bench, which is what was happening early in the year.
George Hill: You can’t say enough about the game he played. He was like Zeus firing lighting bolts down from Mount Olympus with his three point shooting but not to be overlooked was the lock down defense that he put on Lou Williams. In fact Tyler & George outplayed their dynamic duo of Thad & Lou. Anyway as much as we missed Danny in that first game with Philly it can be argued that we missed George more because he has the ability to not only guard Lou he can really bother Lou with his very long arms and right in your jersey defense. For a kid who grew up in Indiana when Reggie Miller was in his prime it had to be surreal to have the fieldhouse blowup for him when he hit those three point shots.
Lou Amundson: This guy packs so much into every min. that he is on the floor that it often seems like he plays more min. than he does. Tonight he only got 11 min. but was still 100% from the floor including about a 13’ jump shot that hit nothing but net and probably made Doug Collins want to jump off of the jumbo tron head first. Honestly as well as Tyler, David & Roy played tonight it would have been hard to justify more min. from Lou but to me that is why he is so valuable to our club. He isn’t going to cause a problem because he didn’t get big min. and will still come in and give you solid production whenever his number is called. Also 3 boards and a block in that short time as well.
A.J. Price: I’ll just say it, if the Pacers don’t want to start Hill because they like his production from the bench they may need to consider giving the nod to Price if Darren can not pull out of this nosedive he is in. His defense was outstanding again tonight and I have no doubt that this is why he played so much, it sure wasn’t his shooting. But Holiday became human when Price was defending him compared to Supreme Galactic Ruler that he was when Collison was (I don’t really want to use the word guarding him because that would imply that he was attempting to stop him from scoring) on the court with him. Also some nice passing into the post, which on our team can always be an adventure.
Dahntay Jones: Solid fundamentally sound basketball. Stifling defense and smart offense. Having said that I am not sure that if the Pacers continue to play Hill exclusively at the two he can continue to get the majority of the backup 3 min. Not his fault, he doesn’t deserve any demotion but Paul George is just too good to play less than 25 min. (minimum IMO) a game.
Ok finally the monkey is off of our backs, we beat a good team. We not only beat them we actually turned up the heat and throttled them at the end of the game. We played physical and once again we outrebounded a good rebounding team. I’ll go ahead and say that this was the most smash mouth basketball that we have played in over a month.
Does this mean all is well? Does it mean that we should all feel much better about the club?
Well the answer to those are no & yes. No, we still have to work on a way to beat Atlanta, Orlando, Miami & Chicago but at the very least beating a good team on national TV might give our club the confidence to start being able to at least beat some of the second tier clubs again.
Now we get to have a back to back with the Knicks. As is always our luck D’Antoni quits just before our games, I think of him about what I thought of O’Brien. I was hoping he would get a lifetime contract with the Knicks. However with Woodson as the coach we will see lots of iso ball, so let’s hope that they got the “win one for the new coach” win out of their system against the ghost of the Portland Trailblazers.
Let's end this with the teams theme song for the year.