Following Friday's practice, Roy Hibbert told the media present, "Coach got into us this morning (when) we watched film. We get the message. It's a must win tomorrow." Lance Stephenson later told ESPN's Mike Wells:
"He screamed on everybody," Pacers guard Lance Stephenson told ESPN.com. "I have never seen him that mad. He went in on everybody. Man, I was shocked because I've never seen him like that. He barked on everybody, even if you did good that game."
Sure, this particular victory was not without its faults. The Pacers' second quarter drumming, where they only managed to score 13 measly points, most definitely was an eyesore, but all in all this was a quality "team" win.
Racking up 22 assists with only 10 turnovers, the Pacers finally got the ball directed to the open man on offense. When Lance Stephenson had to sit out in the first quarter due to early foul trouble, Evan Turner came up big off the bench scoring 11 of the second unit's 23 points. George Hill was in, what Turner later described as, "attack mode" in the fourth quarter, and David West, draining a late-game unexpected three pointer, lived up to the compliment Frank Vogel bestowed upon him after the game, "Best will I've ever been around as a coach."
And, of course, it is impossible to overlook the fact that, when the team's season was on the line, the Blue and Gold's star delivered. Logging over 43 minutes on the night, Paul George scored 24 points, grabbed 10 boards (the fourth time he has recorded 10 or more rebounds in this series), dished 5 assists, and blocked two shots. Despite having some analysts describe his play as "terrible" over the last several months, his stat-line this series continues to be quietly impressive:
Paul George is the 1st player since LeBron James in 2008-09 with 20 Pts, 10 Reb & 5 Ast in 3 of his first 4 games in a single postseason.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 26, 2014
Yes, when the Pacers were attempting to avoid the next step toward elimination, their stars were stars, but there should also be something said about the improved demeanor of Roy Hibbert. At Friday's practice, the Pacers' big man was asked by the media what adjustments he expected Frank Vogel to make in Game 4, in response, Hibbert answered, "Do whatever coach feels necessary to win." In this particular contest, and, perhaps, this series, Roy Hibbert's number may not be called often, and from his post-game comments it appears he has come to accept that, telling Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star:
"I've come to understand that the series may not have gone my way in terms of offense and defense, but I'm just going to do my part and hopefully put the team in the position to be able to finish well. So if I'm on the bench, I'm just going to support my teammates no matter what."
The Big Dawg recorded a modest stat-line with just 6 points, 3 rebounds, and 2 blocks, but his enthusiasm from the sidelines was, to say the least, a welcome sight and without a doubt he actively contributed to what Vogel thought was necessary to win.
Of course, it is always important to avoid getting too high or too low after playoff games no matter the outcome, but Indiana's toughness, mental fortitude, togetherness, and energy both from the court and the bench harkened back to the Pacers' team that earned the East's top seed. The mere fact that Lance Stephenson had to tell his team to calm down in the huddle should reflect the Pacers' overall sense of urgency and desperation:
The whole David West hits a three, Hibbert goes nuts on bench and Lance pleads for calm was bizarro-world Pacers— Paul Flannery (@Pflanns) April 26, 2014
Comedic quality aside, the important thing to take away from Saturday's matinee is that the Pacers, not only finally managed to get a quality road win, they regained home-court advantage in what is now a best of three series. It would be a huge mistake to relax after just one victory, but returning home to the building where the Blue and Gold posted an impressive 35-6 record has to instill confidence. Like Evan Turner told Candace Buckner, "We're playing with house money right now because we get to come home."
For more on the Pacers' Game 4 performance and David West's strong remarks in response to Donald Sterling's alleged comments, check out the links: