Fortunately, Danny Granger was there to put a stop to the final push by Golden State and close out the win. The Pacers' leading scorer, who is much maligned for coming up short at closing time, took care of business like an NBA leading man should, scoring 10 of the Pacers final 14 points over the last four minutes of the game to secure a 109-100 win for the home team. Granger was 8 for 8 from the free throw line during that stretch including making all four attempts to ice the game in the final 23 seconds.
The Pacers needed Granger to step up after the Warriors refused to die in the fourth quarter. The Goon Squad set up the Pacers with a 10-point lead midway through the final quarter, cashing in on several hustle plays and some sweet finishes by rookie Paul George. But when the starters returned to close things out, it appeared they had been snoozing on the bench.
Stephen Curry fueled a rapid-fire 7-0 run, before Granger got things going and woke everyone up to finish the game off. Josh McRoberts made a few hustle plays, including one possession when he broke the full-court press on the dribble which led to a Brandon Rush dunk to put the Pacers back up by six.
Reggie Williams and Stephen Curry took advantage of any crevice the defense gave them late in the game to put up shots and make things dicey. Williams scored 13 of his 25 points, including a handful of three-pointers, in the fourth. The Pacers were able to get a few key stops, which kept Golden State scoreless in the final minute of the game, while putting the W on ice at the other end by making their free throws.
It wasn't the prettiest win you'll ever see but certainly important with three tough road games coming up starting tomorrow night against the Oklahoma City Thunder. This was one of those games where several players made huge plays at various points in the games, while at other times mucking things up and making things easy on Golden State.
After the jump, a few more thoughts on the good, bad and ugly, including the extended minutes rookie Lance Stephenson saw in his second opportunity for game action.
- Have to start with Danny Granger, again considering he deserves the accolades tonight. DG finished with 27 points and 7 rebounds, in a ridiculously efficient offensive night. Granger's points came on just 11 FGA's including only 2 3PT attempts (he made one). It is amazing to see how Granger has changed his mode of attack under Vogel, just burying his head to take the ball to the rim. No, it isn't always a thing of beauty, but converting all 16 FT attempts he earned certainly is.
- Three-pointers and free throws tell an interesting story that also reveals how things have changed at the Fieldhouse. The Pacers were killed from behind the arc, making just 3 of 16 bombs while Golden State knocked down 11 of 27. But the Pacers made up for it by making 32 of 36 free throws compared to 13 of 18 for Golden State.
- The Pacers went ice cold in the second quarter coughing up a double-digit lead when the Warriors went on a 21-2 run. There were bad shots and bad offense along with some odd combinations of players, including Lance Stephenson playing his first NBA minutes at shooting guard. But really, no one has to tell Stephenson to shoot.
- Stephenson had some wow moments while playing both point guard and shooting guard. His first cross-over shook Monta Ellis out of the picture for an open 17-foot jumper which Stephenson knocked down for his first career field goal. From there he struggled to finish in the first half, missing his next six shots, most around the rim. He did take a hit a couple of times but got the rookie treatment from the stripes. In the second half, Stephenson made an appearance and gobbled up a loose ball, took it the other way before snapping off a nice pass to Tyler Hansbrough who scored and was fouled. Another bright spot for the rook, was his defense on Steph Curry in the first half. He was physical and seemed to make Curry uncomfortable the sharp-shooter missed a couple of shots.
- Paul George was the poster-boy for the up and down play everyone in blue and gold displayed. He couldn't seem to get a handle on the ball and missed a few defensive rotations to leave 3-ballers open. But PG came alive in the second half with 8 fourth quarter points that included a big dunk after some solid defense on Monta Ellis and a couple of smooth finishes around the bucket that he made look easy. PG finished with 12 points and 4 rebounds.
- Roy Hibbert wasn't as strong offensively as he should've been. At times, it appeared Hibbert could have his way in the middle, but he came up short a few times. Hibby finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds, but his 4 blocks on defense were big plays coming at the rim with the GSW player looking to finish a drive and draw a foul. Hibbert avoided the contact and stuffed the ball.
- the McBrough power forward tandem had its moments as well combining for 22 points and 13 rebounds. Hansbrough had 14 points, drawing a few trips to the line and a couple of and 1 opportunities. McRoberts had a real nice game, coming up with 3 steals and playing the role of facilitator on offense. To start the game especially, J-Mac passed up several shot opportunities to work the ball for a better look which helped the Pacers offense get off to a good start with a 29-point first quarter.
- Frank Vogel will have to figure out how to juggle the minutes if he continues to find time for Lance Stephenson. My guess is those minutes will be taken from some combination of Dahntay Jones and Brandon Rush which is fine, but as the second quarter revealed, too much rotation upheaval can cause things to grind to a halt as players figure out how to play together.
- Vogel took some heat in the game thread for inserting the starters midway through the fourth quarter when Paul George and the second unit were rolling pretty well. I have no problem bringing in the starters because that's their job, although keeping George out there instead of Rush would've been fine with me. George did return late in the game to fortify the defensive effort to close things out.