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The Indiana Pacers offered up quite a sight in the second half in their second preseason game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, one that showcased Ian Mahinmi, Gerald Green, Paul George, and even Ben Hansbrough to open a few eyes for blue and gold faithful.
The Pacers, tonight resting Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough in addition to a second night off from Danny Granger and George Hill, jumped out an early lead behind solid efforts from Paul George and David West, only to fall behind in the second quarter due to poor team defense. In the second half, they used a 17-0 run and key plays down the stretch to close the Wolves and improve to 1-1 on the preseason.
The Timberwolves got limited run from players like Kevin Love (who had 9 first quarter rebounds), J.J. Berea (who spent his time torching D.J. Augustin), and Brandon Roy, opening the opportunity for the Pacers to make a push in the second half despite a strong showcase from second year forward Derrick Williams, who finished with 25 points and 6 boards. That's little to take away from the highlights the Pacers had in the second half.
Paul George led the way for the Pacers with 19 points and 6 rebounds, continuing his opportunistic defensive skills and sinking in the dagger on the game. It's a positive of course that George has shown progression as a player so far in the preseason, but Pacers fans had an idea of what to expect with George this season. For Gerald Green and Ian Mahinmi, the expectations were far more uncertain, but both provided a ton tonight to show they could provide a huge spark for the Pacers' second unit.
Green was lethal in the second half on the offensive end. His turnaround fade away was on fire tonight, helping him to finish with 18 points, 6 boards, and 4 assists. Even with George, Green was the most exciting player on the floor in the second half, highlighting his night with a tremendous inbound alley-oop dunk. In addition, Mahinmi was a stout presence in the post. He worked through some ball handling issues in the first half and came up short on some easy put backs in the second half, but crashed the offensive glass to finish with 17 points and 8 rebounds in another eye opening performance from a new member of the team.
Ben Hansbrough had a surprisingly quality game as well, orchestrating the point for the second half comeback, leading the team in assists with 7, putting up 10 points and committing zero turnovers. Slick Leonard led Ben into the second half by noting his first half play, and his praise was well placed, as Hansbrough has suddenly become a dark horse as far as this roster goes, with guys like Lance Stephenson and Orlando Johnson continuing to play at a far lower level.
Ball control was far better tonight, as the blue and gold cut their Fargo turnovers in half, committing just 12. D.J. Augustin continues to have suspect defense against swift point guards like J.J. Berea, Jeff Pendergraph had a quiet 8 point, 7 board effort, showing more in preseason than he showed all of last year and in the Summer League. Miles Plumlee offered up a couple of long jumpers to go with his 9 points and David West played well in his limited role, finishing with 8.
All in all, the Pacers looked on key for three quarters tonight, and will look to keep building on that as they host the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.