Pacers Win Comes Just in Time
Basketball is a game of inches. And, as the Pacers proved Monday afternoon, a game of tiny fractions of a second.
Rudy Gay’s banked jumper at the buzzer came about a hundredth of a second too late, leaving the Pacers with their best road victory of the season, an 82-81 victory over the Grizzlies.
The Pacers should give the game ball to the timekeeper. He could have won it for the home team if he had been a tic slow with his trigger finger. Hopefully we won’t find him in a Memphis unemployment line anytime soon.
The Pacers earned this victory for the way they played out the final few seconds. With the game tied at 81, having called timeout the assumption was that they would run a pick-and-roll with George Hill and David West – just as they did to beat Toronto in the season-opener and have done so many times this season. Memphis no doubt expected it, too, but West faked the screen and moved out of the way, leaving Hill with room to drive to the basket. He drew a foul and managed to hit the second of two foul shots for the winning point.
Defensively, Paul George kept a hand in Gay’s face as he dribbled and launched what turned out to be a lucky shot – one that banked in from near the top of the key.
Coach Frank Vogel had said before the road trip that defense travels, and that’s how the Pacers won this game. But they also needed to show more offensive poise on the road, and they had that as well. They hit nearly 50 percent from the field and 47 percent from the three-point line. That was enough to overcome 20 turnovers, including a career-high eight from George Hill, who left the court cursing at himself for the errors and the missed foul shot with 1.4 left.
The Pacers don’t win with body blows, they splatter opponents with a flurry of jabs from all directions.
Paul George had what looked to the naked eye like an off-game, but was one assist short of a triple-double and hit a late three-pointer that regained the lead. He also forced Gay, Memphis’ leading scorer, into hitting just 7-of-22 shots. Gay hit just 3-of-17 shots against George in the earlier meeting at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and no doubt can’t wait to not see George again this season – unless he’s traded. Gay, I mean. George is one of the least likely players in the league to be traded at this point.
David West, normally a land-lover, got up for a career-high five blocks and added a season-high three steals.
Roy Hibbert added four blocks and hit four-of-seven shots.
The bench contributed 25 points and got solid play from everyone but Gerald Green, who was replaced by rookie Orlando Johnson in the rotation after missing all three shots in a six-minute appearance. Johnson hit both of his three-point shots. Green remains the lone mystery on the roster, and seems in danger of losing his place in the rotation after Danny Granger returns and bumps Lance Stephenson back to the bench.
The Pacers’ next opponent, Portland, has lost five straight games to drop to .500, so they have a great opportunity to start the trip with two victories – and then go for bonus wins in the final two games at Utah and Denver.