Hansbrough’s Spark Doesn’t Go Unnoticed
Many refer to him as Psycho T. It’s not a nickname he’s fond of, but when he’s on the floor the players – on both teams – know it because of his physical play.
Tyler Hansbrough came into the game during the fourth quarter on Sunday and gave Indiana the boost they needed during his six-minute stint. On four consecutive possessions, the fourth year forward scored or had his hand in the Pacers putting points on the board.
“Anytime I go in the game, I try to impact the game a little bit,” said Hansbrough following the Pacers’ 107-90 Game 1 win. “Tonight it was rebounding, some steals and some defensive plays.”
Related: George Delivers Historic Performance
First, after rebounding his own miss, he was fouled in the act of shooting and then made both free throws. On the next play, he rebounded a Paul George miss and was fouled once again, and he converted on one of two free throws. Hansbrough then rebounded his own missed foul shot, which eventually led to a 3-pointer from George Hill.
That’s not all. On the very next play at the other end, Hansbrough stole the ball from Josh Smith and then got the ball back from Hill for a reverse layup. Atlanta had threatened, cutting Indiana’s lead to nine before that spurt. When Hansbrough exited, to a loud, standing ovation, the Pacers’ lead was up to 14.
“It’s always great,” he said of the fans’ applause. “I love the playoffs especially when the fans get behind you like that and they start cheering for everybody. It just makes you feel better.
He finished with nine points and five rebounds in just under 17 minutes of action. One more point and the Pacers would have had seven players in double figures for the game. Hansbrough credited the defensive effort as the difference. The Pacers held the Hawks to just eight points in the paint in the second half after 20 in the second quarter and 30 in the opening half.
“It was big for us, especially with the slump we were in coming off the regular season and into the playoffs. It’s something that’ll get our confidence up and show we are the team that had that record.”
Related: Stephenson Aces Biggest Test
The energy and effort that had been missing in the final six regular season games, in which they trailed by at least 20 points in every one, was there. Hansbrough and Jeff Pendergraph are the two energy guys for the Pacers, but being the playoffs, it’s important that everyone plays with such urgency.
“When we play with passion and energy on both ends of the court, we’re pretty good,” Frank Vogel said. “That shows up the most in who’s getting lose balls and who’s making energy plays.”
“Tyler came up big in the second half,” Roy Hibbert remarked. Indeed he did.