It's no surprise the Pacers would string together a more fluid performance following their jittery effort yesterday, but Indiana's increased fluidity came almost entirely through Lance Stephenson's ability to run the offense with precision and efficiency. The game was Indiana's from the outset despite the Oklahoma City Thunder's ability to stick around. Indiana led almost the entire way, falling behind early in the fourth quarter as Stephenson rested, his return sparking Indiana to the win over the Thunder.
Stephenson was the crown jewel of the Indiana effort, controlling the game in his battle with Reggie Jackson, which eventually boiled over into a Jackson technical. Lance finished with 28 points, 7 assists, and 3 rebounds to top off his zero turnovers. In yesterday's game, Stephenson's assist numbers were a bit flat (even at 6) by his teammates failure to come up with the look Stephenson handed them, but today he found everyone in perfect position for an easy pair of points.
It was really Lance's game through and through, even despite another generally poor defensive effort. Miles Plumlee finished second in the game in points with 14 points, a huge benefactor of Lance's offensive control. On Plumlee's end, he did well making use of Stephenson's play, but struggled to rebound the ball at the same level he did in yesterday's game when he reached double figure rebounding numbers.
All in all, Plumlee's game continues to show a nice enough foundation worth building upon, and it's entirely fair to say he outplayed fellow first round pick (and the player many Pacers fans had hoped Indiana would draft) in Perry Jones III. Jones was nearly invisible the entire game, showing up briefly in the second half before leaving the game with an ankle injury. Miami of Ohio standout Julian Mavunga took it to Jones a few times in the second half of the game, Mavunga himself making a nice 6 point, 3 board effort in his short time.
After a poor shooting game in a 19-point effort, Orlando Johnson blanked from the field, going 0-10 from the field and scoring 4 points. Through most of the game, Johnson played with a scorer's mentality, looking to make something out of nothing, to no avail in today's game. In his defense, despite a lot of black hole play, he did eventually open things up for his teammates, dishing out five assists while posting a game high +16 in the +/- category.
Jeff Pendergraph spent the game crashing the boards, leading the Pacers with seven, but a hard fall late in the first half would sideline him for the remainder of the game. Also of note, Tyren Johnson followed up his struggles in the first game with a much more composed six points and seven rebounds in a positive effort. Ultimately, the Pacers went as Lance Stephenson went today, a positive spin for those hoping to see the court vision and playmaking abilities of Stephenson officially translate to the NBA game.
Stephenson had some issues with his left leg early in the game, but they didn't affect him as the game wore on. Whether the minutes eventually bog him down later in the week remains to be seen, but to this point, he's been fantastic in his ability as a play making point guard, leading the NBA TV broadcast team to gush over Stephenson every chance they got, and giving the Pacers a lot of options if he can continue to work through the offseason and into next season.