One thing we learned tonight with regard to the Pacers is that there is no answer to the questions: Which lineup works best?
After ripping through several different starting lineups and other rotation combination searching for some sustainable success, the Pacers tried a little bit of everything against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night and showed that varying the style of attack and sticking with what works is the way to go.
Since no five can impose their will on opponents over the long haul, a more gimmicky approach with bursts of different looks appears to be the best option to keep the opponents off-balance and adjusting instead of the other way around. The results spoke for themselves as the Pacers attacked the league's least efficient defensive team while getting just enough stops to roll to a 130-115 win.
With Jim O'Brien out of town, assistant coach Lester Conner went back to a big lineup with both Roy Hibbert and Troy Murphy starting which moved Danny Granger back to his more comfortable small forward spot.
The Pacers took advantage of the size by pushing the ball into Hibbert in the post. Not only that, they opened the game by running a couple of post plays for Danny Granger who appeared energized to attack the smaller Sonny Weems after spending Sunday evening banging around with Chris Bosh.
Small ball wasn't put on ice however and different rotations with Murphy at center were equally effective, although tonight Granger spent more of his time covering Andrea Bargnani on the perimeter when the team went small.
Coach Conner pulled all the right strings tonight and even earned an appearance from PS&E president Jim Morris at his post-game press conference. The win lifted a lot of spirits around the Fieldhouse and as Conner put it, the players stepped up for the substitute teacher.
More thoughts and crazy numbers after the jump:
- Instead of stumbling through the third quarter blahs, the Pacers absolutely lit it up after halftime, scoring 42 point in the third with an eFG% of 85%. They even made 14 trips to the free throw line, making all but one.
- To further illustrate the attack mode the Pacers played in, consider that the scored 50 points in the paint and wnet to the free throw line 35 times and made 33 of the freebies.
- Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani scored 35 and 34 points, respectively with Bosh hauling in 15 rebounds. Conner mentioned the key was keeping the rest of the roster under wraps after the bench lit up the Pacers on Sunday.
- The Pacers efficient offense was fueled by a balanced attack with seven players in double figures and two more players with eight points. They also combined for 24 assists.
- Speaking of assists, Earl Watson was a solid floor general scoring 15 points with 11 assists. He really pushed the ball up the floor to keep the pressure on Toronto's defense which allowed the Pacers to get into their sets easier when the transition opportunity wasn't available.
- Roy Hibbert started strong and finished even stronger. His eight points in the first quarter got the Pacers rolling early. Then, when Toronto made their last gasp run in the fourth, Granger and Hibbert took turns beating them back with a Murphy 3-ball mixed in to suck a little will out of the visitors.
- Danny Granger struggled from distance but made an impact by attacking the paint. He scored 23 points despite an 0-5 effort from 3-land but made all seven of his free throws. With the gams on ice late, Granger tried to sneak in a 3-ball attempt just to leave the court with something positive. The ball clanked, but he followed it up and made an 18-footer. One of those nights.
- I could watch Bargnani shoot all night.
- Former Pacer Jarrett Jack struggled on the night, making just 1 of 6 shots and even threw in a pair of "Jarrett Jack Jump Turnovers" for old times sake.
- Lester Conner is now 2-0 as a head coach. He also won a game he coached when JOB had to miss a game while they were coaching Philly.