Halftime videos inspire Pacers
Frank Vogel no longer addresses his team in the locker room at halftime. What’s the point? How many times and how many ways can you tell a team to pick up the defensive effort in the second half.
“I just have a tape recorder,” he said. “I don’t even go in there any more.”
He’s joking, of course, but he could be forgiven for trying it that way. His team’s habit of starting slowly and taking a small lead or a deficit into the halftime locker room has become the norm. Despite its 24-5 record, it has trailed at halftime 13 times this season, and most of its leads are modest.
Ah, but those third quarters make up for everything. The Pacers have outscored opponents by 172 points in the third period over their first 29 games while shooting 51 percent from the field and 48 percent from the three-point line.
The offensive outbursts relate to their improved defense, which sets up fastbreak opportunities or easy shots in transition. Their improved defense relates to their halftime video sessions of about five minutes, in which the defensive mistakes of the first half are screened for a captive audience.
Saturday’s 105-91 victory over Brooklyn was typical. The Pacers struggled to lead by two points after trailing by as many as six, but dominated the third quarter. They outscored the Nets 28-20, hitting 11-of-16 shots, including 4-of-5 three-pointers. Although the Nets continued to shoot well, hitting nearly half of their shots, the Pacers held them in check by picking off four steals and allowing them just two free throw attempts. They had forced just four turnovers in all of the first half.
“The first half we let them get comfortable and they were doing what they wanted to do,” George Hill said. “The second half, we came in and watched film and figured how we can make them uncomfortable. We made them take contested shots and that’s what changed the game.”
Paul George normally personifies the Pacers’ third-quarter surge. He entered Saturday’s game averaging 9.2 points in the period. He scored just five on Saturday, but had seven more in the final quarter on his way to a game-high 24.
He had two steals in the third period on Saturday, both within 30 seconds of one another early in the period and both of which led to points – a layup by Lance Stephenson and two free throws from Hill.
“(The Nets) had a lot of open looks to start the first half,” George said. “The second half, we were in our gaps, we were helping one another, and we weren’t going to allow them to beat us with one-on-one plays.”
The halftime message doesn’t just come from the coaches. The players are in one another’s ear as well.
“We’ve been together for so long, we respect one another, and we know how to talk with one another to get the message across,” George said. “We have that trust where if someone says something, respect them and follow the plan.”