Well it was fun while it lasted. For about 2 and a half quarters I am sure that most of you were joining me in the thought that “well maybe they have turned the corner”. I mean if the starters can play their normal game and then all of a sudden tonight here comes the bench with its first real solid game. Then maybe the Washington & New Orleans games were real solid building stones and we can go into the west coast riding a 3 game win streak and although we have zero chance of beating the Lakers maybe if we can just catch the Warriors not looking for us and then just beat the Kings then it won’t be bad at all.
Then the last half of the last quarter hit.
We were then treated to the variety & comedy styling that is the Pacers interior offense. I know everybody is going to line up to throw Frank Vogel under the bus but again I ask the same question I’ve asked before. What can any coach, be it Frank or Phil Jackson or even Slick Leonard himself, do when players miss wide open shots and shots right at the rim?
Normally my complaint with Frank is that he lets teams build too many big momentum runs before he calls a time out, tonight I can’t even complain about that because with almost 3 min. left in the game we had no timeouts left. Thank God it didn’t come down to a last second shot that needed a timeout to set up because we didn’t have one.
Yes Roy crapped all over himself, the floor & basketball in general, but let’s not let Mr. Clutch David West off of the hook either. He walked up to the free throw line with the ability to cut into the lead and he had all the poise & confidence of Calvin Murphy however he had the shooting ability of Chris Dudley. He then proceeded to miss what seemed like 1,000 shots right at the rim to match Roy Hibbert shot for shot in ineptitude.
However while both of them were nauseating in their own way there was a stretch prior to this where Paul George all but gave back the entire lead in a series of events that I like to call “see Paul shrink in the face of adversity”. Not only did his man hit a pretty much uncontested three Paul then decides to demonstrate his off season ball handling improvement by losing the ball in the backcourt to his player who then proceeds to score again thus giving the spurs a quick 5-0 run. Somewhere along the way Paul fouls for the and one giving them a quick 8 points.
No they weren’t all Happy Day’s.
It’s a darn shame to because up until the collapse this was without question the single best overall game the Pacers have put together all season long and as is becoming a tradition on the Thanksgiving weekend games they also had a big crowd in the house for this. I am just eternally grateful that at the very least the team competed and did not get blown out of the water early on. At least the casual in attendance tonight had to at least feel like the team competed, which they did.
There are a lot of good things that happened tonight I just wish that our next game wasn’t against the Lakers who will be out for blood because that will be two losses in a row and all of the momentum that we might have built will probably be gone.
That’s what makes those early season losses against the Raptors, Wolves and Bobcats so hard to swallow. Now the schedule turns to much tougher competition and we didn’t take advantage of the early soft schedule we had. Oh well can’t cry about it now, we just have to start winning and there really is no other way to put it.
BTW we missed 7 free throws tonight; the margin of victory for the Spurs was 7. I know we are not going to hit 100% of our free throw attempts but we have got to start improving from the line & our starters (minus David West) need to start getting to the line more.
Let’s just do some quick grades.
David West: B
I know some think it should be higher but his late game collapse combined with his absolute inability to rotate on defense tonight to help with penetration drags his score down. He did hit some nice face up jumpers that he had been missing and he did help provide some solid physical play down low.
Paul George: B
I was happy that he didn’t come out and start settling for the three point shot. I figured after the other night we would be treated to a 10+ from distance tonight. He got lost a couple of times on defense but he also seemed better at moving without the ball tonight than he has in awhile. Still though that colossal mental lapse at the end of the 4th was pretty damaging to the team.
Roy Hibbert: D
There is nothing wrong with passing out of the post if you get an offensive rebound. You don’t always have to go right back up with it. Solid defense for the most part but also it can’t be denied he probably shot us out of the game (with a lot of help from David West) at the end. He has got to start getting a more diverse offensive game. His one handed hook shots aren’t working so let’s try something, anything, else.
Lance Stephenson: B
We run no plays for the guy, which makes all of the points he scores pretty much something he has created. We all saw the play and yes the only two things missing was for there to be some dude with a mic running up & down the court going “Born Ready Boiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii” and for lance to put the ball on the ground and dance around it. Yes it was a Rucker Park move and yes it was fun to watch. But beyond that I want to make this statement. Lance for all of his flash and sizzle has some real solid steak behind him as well. Quietly while no one was watching he kept his man out of the game on the defensive end; remember Genobili was Paul’s man not Lance. I really like the progression he is giving us this season.
Tyler Hansbrough: A
Rebounds R Us at your service. He was ripping rebounds out of there like they were nuggets of pure gold and these were not the chase down the loose ball variety rebound either. This was I’m going up & ripping this out of the sky and nobody is going to get it away from me type rebounds. Also I can’t praise enough the effort he put in to out running Tony Parker (yes you read that right) and getting back on defense blocking Parker and getting the ball back to us. Amazingly this season he has improved so much at defense and rebounding that somehow he has lost the ability to hit that face up 15’ jumper he used to be good at. Tyler will have a very nice long career if he accepts that rebounding, defense and physical play are his forte’.
D.J. Augustin: A+
As Hick’s who was sitting with me tonight said “he’s a pretty good point guard when he’s breathing oxygen”. By far and not even a close second anywhere to be found this was his best game as a Pacer. He led the offensive attack and he wasn’t a complete sieve on defense either. Yes I’m being overly generous with the grade because it really wasn’t an A+ game but with what we’ve gotten from him up till now believe me it was an A+ game for him.
Ian Mahinmi: B+
For a short span there actually resembled the player we saw in pre-season. He was hitting some shots, he was getting a few rebounds and he was contesting the Spurs shots in the paint. Not a perfect game mind you but it was also an improvement over what we have been getting.
Gerald Green: C+
He does what he does. Hit some decent shots including a big 3 in the 3rd to get our run really rolling. His defense is stable if unspectacular but I don’t know there is just something about him that I can never put my finger on. I don’t dislike him but for whatever reason I tend to want to get Lance or Paul back in as soon as possible.
Sam Young: C+
He hit the other big three that got our run going in the 3rd. On the other hand for whatever reason I trust Sam. I don’t want him ever passing the ball & I really don’t love the idea of him shooting other than to open up the floor a little but I guess I just like to see him go at it on the defensive end. He’s very physical for a small forward. But he is what he is and that is not a starter or a big min. player. I don’t like it when Frank uses him over Lance to end a game.
It’s funny when you look at the grades you would think we would have won this game.
I want to say one brief thing about the Spurs before I go. I respect them as a great team. To quote Bret Hart they are the Excellence of Execution. They are also a very physical team, which would surprise you if you didn’t know it. They hit very hard the cutters, they use their hands and lower body’s to move you out of position and yes when they can’t get the advantage via leverage they are not above either flopping or frankly playing a little dirty. Nothing to bad but they like to slap at people and hold people. Everybody looks at Genobili as the main culprit of this but I’m here to tell you Tim Duncan is as bad as any of them are. He will body up a player like he were Shaq himself until he can’t get the leverage or angle and then he falls back as though he were hit in the chest with a shot gun slug.
So yes all hail to the Spurs, I take nothing away from their greatness. But they certainly are not angels either.
The Spurs continue to be our downfall though.
On to the Lake show.