George Hill is a team leader for the Indiana Pacers and not about to point fingers after a disappointing loss. The Pacers absorbed a late loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night in familiar fashion.
The starting unit built an eight-point lead midway through the first quarter and then by the time the bench rotation was through the lead was long gone. When Hill replaced reserve point guard D.J. Augustin with just under six minutes remaining in the half, Denver held a six-point lead.
It has to be getting frustrating for the starters to make it happen and then make up for the bench in order for the Pacers to win. Plus, the minutes on the court continue to creep up, but Hill refused to admit any frustration with his teammates.
"We can't discredit the bench," Hill said after the game. "They won the last game (Portland) for us. We can't name one particular group and say this is the reason why we lost. It's a team effort. We make mistakes like they make mistakes. We just have to get better."
Yes, the bench was great against Portland, although the Blazers have even more problems than the Pacers with their second unit production.
So will Frank Vogel try something different?
The name Ben Hansbrough was heard around the Fieldhouse last night and Mike Wells raised the question today about giving Hansbrough a shot with the second unit in place of D.J. Augustin. There would be absolutely zero risk with this move since Augustin is shooting 25% from the field and struggles to defend opposing point guards.
Hansbrough's ball handling may be a liability, but Augustin gave up an eight-second violation against the Nuggets, so again -- it couldn't be much worse. Lil' Hans showed in preseason he a can bring a spark to the floor, as well which would be a nice change compared to Augustin who appears to be flatlining out on the court.
So I'll call Wells' Hansbrough move and raise him a Jeff Pendergraph for Tyler Hansbrough move. Pendergraph's offense may be suspect but Tyler's offense is currently in witness protection. No one knows where it is or when it will be back -- including Hansbrough. Pendergraph can bring high energy and effort to the court and who knows, may be able to finish at least half of his shot attempts around the rim.
It may sound like a drastic, knee-jerk reaction to one loss, but that's not the case. The numbers don't lie and neither do the eyes. What we're seeing from Augustin and Hansbrough would make a few second-quarter minutes for Ben Hansbrough and Pendergraph a welcome change with no risk. If they end up doing nothing worthwhile then they will simply be filling in for Augustin and Hansbrough.
The Pacers will continue to rely on the starters to win games but finding a little additional support would help. Shaking things up for a few games may do Augustin and Tyler some good, as well. The Pacers benefited last season when they grabbed the roster's attention by bringing in Leandro Barbosa. The Barbosa boost helped the Pacers depth and sent them on to a strong finish to the season.
A healthy Danny Granger may be the player to come in and give that boost this year, but until then the Pacers need to do something to play better than a .500 team.
So should the Pacers try Ben Hansbrough for D.J. Augustin? How about Pendergraph for Tyler Hansbrough? Both?