Eat your heart out regular season Indiana Pacers. The summer squad version of the Pacers roster completed two tasks that the 2008-09 Indiana team rarely did last season: hold on to a double-digit fourth quarter lead; and win three straight games (the 08-09 team did it only once).
Without the Beast of the Summer League Josh McRoberts, who was sitting out with a sprained left ankle, the Pacers were led, again, by a dominating post presence to crush the Summer Utah Jazz, 95-79. After combining for 47 points in Tuesday's win, Roy Hibbert and rookie Tyler Hansbrough repeated their inside scoring onslaught by scoring 45 against the Jazz. Hansbrough did his damage from the free-throw line (a perfect 14-of-14), while Hibbert cashed in 8-of-13 from the field. Hansbrough (24 points) also committed zero turnovers in 32 minutes and Hibbert (21 points) had only three fouls in 28 minutes.
"He's (Hibbert) showing me around Indy right now," Hansbrough said about his growing friendship with his new teammate. "I just try to get him the ball and let him go to work."
On another bright note, the Pacers took 20 more foul shots than the Jazz, a stat that coach Jim O'Brien and president Larry Bird have wanted to fix for a long time. More notes after the jump.
For more on the game, check out the recap and box score.
Onto the players performances:
- Hansbrough is looking ridiculously impressive. Yes, it's only summer league. But check out how the other rookies are struggling in these games. Today, Eric Maynor went 2-of-9 for five points and struggled to fit into the offense because of poor shot selection. Jrue Holiday struggled his first game with 3-of-11 shooting and B.J. Mullens fouled out in nine minutes yesterday, all while Hansbrough is playing like a second-year player. Bird wasn't kidding when he said Hansbrough would contribute right away. You gotta love how he plays. He follows every shot he takes (he bowled over several defenders to get his four offensive boards today), boxes out, plays well in the high post, can score on the block and makes free throws, lots and lots of free throws. Not only that, but his constant moving in the paint allows Hibbert to actually manuever and get rebounds. He also took a sweet pass from Price late in the game and flushed it down like it was Game 7 of the ECF, screaming and yelling like a madman. Quite a performance from the rookie, who also signed on the dotted line today.
- A.J. Price finally found his groove today. He earned 24 minutes of playing time and made it count with 14 points on quality 6-of-9 shooting (2-of-3 from beyond the arc). He had several sweet looking passes in the second half to Hansbrough and Hibbert inside. Hopefully he can keep taking advantage of Brandon Rush's injury and utilize the extra playing time.
- Scott Vander Meer could not be less impressive. He just does not fit well out there on the court. He somehow played nine minutes although I only remember him being in one possession. Maybe it's the fact that everytime I see him on the grainy video that I hope it's Josh McRoberts, but his zero-point, three-rebound performance left much to be desired.
- Two other players who are trying to make the team had solid showings. Aaron Jackson and Leo Lyons both dropped nine points a piece and they flowed well in the offense. Leons did his damage from the line (7-of-7), and Jackson showed some creativity in getting around the perimeter while distributing the ball and shooting.
Will Blalock had eight points, but they were a quiet eight. With the big guys inside and Price getting so much attention outside, Blalock kind of disappeared Vander Meer-style. But it was better than his zero-point, six-foul performance yesterday.
- Finally, Roy Hibbert has officially redeemed himself from that awful, horrible first half against Phil/N.J. His hook shot was falling today (with a beautiful left-hook that dropped early) and he nabbed eight boards. If you haven't caught a summer league game yet, it's worth it just for the Hansbrough-Hibbert combo. We may never see them play this well in the regular season, so watch it while you can people. It's a lot of fun.
The Summer Pacers squad returns to action against Boston on Thursday at 7 p.m.