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Weíre going to open tonightís odd thoughts with an important update. Our rookie Miles Plumlee tonight had 10 points on 5-10 shooting and 17 rebounds with 4 blocks, sadly these were not his statistics from a Pacers game but it was his stat line from his game with the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants. So hopefully he is getting valuable experience and he is really showing that at least in the D league he can really rebound the ball.
Now onto the Pacers game.
Oddly enough it seemed as though David West & Roy Hibbert changed bodies tonight as David had what was easily his worst game of the season and Roy had one of his best. Iím not sweating the West bad game btw as this is truly an anomaly and I have zero expectations that he will repeat this. I mean he was missing 5 foot layups and open jumpers that he normally splashes not to mention the 4 missed free throw attempts. Whatís even more weird is that while this was his worst game he still scored 14 points and grabbed 6 rebounds, so in other words his worst game would probably be Tylerís best game stat wise this season.
You really have to give Doug Collins a lot of credit as a coach, that roster he is working with is really not that talented and he has them playing at a very high level. We won but at no point in time until the very end did I ever feel like this was in the bag. They play hard every possession and never seem to give up. Kudos to both the coach and the team.
But letís not take a thing away from Frank Vogel either. I think this season we are seeing him coach at a very high level and he has shown that he is adaptable. While he has driven me crazy at times with his usage of the bench we have seen more and more over the past few games that he will even change that up as he almost always had a starter on the floor with the bench tonight and has really limited the time he uses them. Not something that he probably wants to do but the bench being horrific has made this necessary.
But it goes beyond that, think about where our offense was at the beginning of the season and even most of last season. We were a power post offense that was going to pound it down your throat no matter what. Well Roy has struggled and Tyler has been ineffective (thatís being polite btw) so now you will notice the ball in George Hillís hands much more and we now run more plays where Paul George initiates the offense. This not only has opened up the floor for more scoring from them but since they are now drawing double teams tonight it allowed Roy a couple of times to get easy baskets off of feeds and a couple of easy tip ins because his man left to guard the penetration.
Our defense is still top notch.
What Iím saying is we have a very good coach and man does it feel good to say that after about 4 years of hell.
Is Paul George playing at an all-star level? Without a doubt he is playing at an all-star level. He wonít make it this year unless he manages to do this almost every game until the all star break but without a doubt had he been doing this all year he would have had a great chance.
As it stands weíll just have to settle for having an all-star level player (which truth be told West also fits that bill as well) playing at a very high level.
To say he is a two way player is a massive understatement. He not only put that block on Hawes at the end but prior to that he was assigned to shut down Turner who had been hitting prior to that. Not only did it work Evan didnít even get a shot up in the last 4 possessions of the game.
This is now 6 games in a row that he has been superb. A+ type games every single one of them but there is a down side to that as well. Now it is known he can do this so nights like he was having earlier in the year, in other words just 7 games ago, are not acceptable. Sure he can have an off night just like anyone but never again can we accept him just standing planted at the three point line and settling for contested fade away jumpers. He has to be aggressive and he has to attack the rim.
On another note he was just inches away from the dunk of the year, probably honestly the best dunk ever laid down by a Pacer and from baptizing Spencer Hawes into the religion of Paul George. Iím pretty sure I heard people in my section speaking in tongues after that dunk attempt anyway. Had he hit that Iím not sure the east end of the field house wouldnít have collapsed from the after boom and Nick Youngís afro wouldnít have parted into dreadlocks.
Speaking of which Andrew Bynum must now be officially listed as 7í8Ē tall as that hair is rising like the mushroom cloud over bikini island.
Great game, great win and if the fates favor us we might actually have a three game win streak if we can pull this off tomorrow.
Letís do some grades.
David West: B-
Couldnít hit water from a boat tonight and Thad Young is not really a matchup defensively that favors him. Also he was one half of the duo that botched the end of the first half debacle. He made two bad passes that ended up costing us 4 points but he wasnít 100% to blame. However he kept working on the glass and he is such a threat that the opposition can not leave him to double away from him so he still helps even when his shot is not dropping. He has carried us all season; we can forgive him this one off game. Nobody btw was more upset by his shots not dropping than he was; he looked constipated after every missed shot.
Paul George: A+
Simply amazing. There is not a lot to add to what everybody else is saying about him over the past few games but the one thing Iíll say is that at one point he split a double team to get to the basket that was frankly reminiscent of none other than Kobe Bryant, it was that good.
Roy Hibbert: A
Hit his shots, grabbed a lot of boards and while he didnít have multiple blocked shots I can tell you he certainly affected a lot of shots (as he does every game). Kwame (I canít believe itís not butter) Brown attempted to use his sizeable girth to push Roy off the blocks and just body him up all game long. It didnít have the impact he was hoping for. Roy was able to work around him all night and each of their backups had no hope of stopping Roy, Hawes was able to hit his face up jumpers but on defense Roy just killed him.
Gerald Green: D
No they werenít all happy days. I knew his night was going to be off when in the layup line he went 1-11 at one point and missed 3 shots within 5 feet with no one guarding him. Naptown Seth keeps telling me to believe but I just donít see it. Honestly he is the wing player on our team that I trust the least. I donít think Sam Young is all that great either but Iíll take him any day over Green at this point. Maybe heíll turn it around but I just wonder when.
George Hill: A+
The G2 connection had it going tonight for sure. How do you not give an A+ to a triple double and a big game clinching three point shot? You know no matter how he shoots all game long I always trust him at the end of the game with the ball his hands, he is just an ice cold killer.
Tyler Hansbrough: B
Started off like a ball of fire collecting physical rebounds immediately upon entering the game. Still canít hit that face up jumper (unless itís fed to him by Ben I guess) but did his usual one handed flailing sort of hook shot and both of them actually dropped tonight. Good activity when he was in, it was a little surprising that he didnít get some more time but once again Frank is leaning on the starters more each game. Not sure how long he can do that to West but weíll take the win and run with it.
Sam Young: C+
Other than his George Gervin type 8í finger roll attempt that rolled out he played within himself not trying to do anything he shouldnít be doing. Even that finger roll looked good till it rolled out. Honestly in the grand scheme of things I never feel good talking about salaries because itís so subjective in terms of value but I think that Sam is a very good bargain for what he is being paid.
Ben Hansbrough: I (incomplete)
Circumstances dictated that he get very few min. on the floor tonight and the few min he was on were mostly non consequential because while they were pressuring him with on the dribble he effectively passed off a couple of times to a player who botched the pass. I guess I just donít feel right judging him based on tonightís game.
Ian Mahinmi: D
Remember above when I said ďhe effectively passed off a couple of times to a player who botched the passĒ well meet the player who botched the passes. Catch the damn ball when itís right in your hand Ian. Not really one of his better games just couldnít seem to find a flow at all. But when we look at his games over the past 10 or so you have to be pretty pleased with him.
On to Detroit and hopefully another win.
Basketball isn't played with computers, spreadsheets, and simulations. ChicagoJ 4/21/13