All 15 Pacers who played on Tuesday night scored at least two points, but a few players stood out either because of their debut with the Pacers or their impressive play (or both). Here are a few thoughts on those players who stood out:
- George Hill showed up ready to attack Ricky Rubio and in the process showed a much more assertive game which didn't see Hill settling for three-pointers but instead hunting buckets closer to the rim. In just 20 minutes, Hill finished with 17 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Hill tweaked his lower back late in the first half but was able to stay loose and return for the second half when he pumped in 11 points in the first six minutes of the third quarter to put the Pacers in control. At least for one night, Hill took control of a different role in the offense, which didn't have him parked behind the three-point line after giving up the ball. As he said, "I sold that real estate."
- Like Hill, Rodney Stuckey didn't hesitate to attack the paint which included a pair of back cuts which freed him for nice passes from Roy Hibbert for layups. Stuckey showed how his game is different from Lance Stephenson in the way he attacks the paint. When an opening appear, Stuckey hits the gap and gets in the paint. No cross-over yo-yos to set up a defender. The ball didn't stop. Just, bam, there he goes. Finishing at the rim is more of a challenge for Stuckey, but when it is time to attack, he won't hesitate to do so.
- The other new face in the starting lineup, C.J. Miles, also made a favorable first impression, earning the first Boom, Baby! of the season when he made his first three-point attempt. Miles showed active hands on the defensive end, doing a nice job of disrupting Minnesota's offense early in the game.
- Damjan Rudez missed all three-point attempts but regardless showed his ability to put the ball in the basket. Damo had a toe on the line for his first game shot at the Fieldhouse and splashed what appeared to be a corner three. Alas, it was a long two but the stroke looked good. He does need space to get his shot off and appeared rushed on his long misses. Rudez cashed in the rest of his eight points with some crafty one-handers and a follow tip-in around the rim, showing he can score in a variety of ways other than behind the arc.
- Reserve bigs Lavoy Allen and rookie Shayne Whittington left a positive impression. Allen is quick to go for the ball and is crafty on the defensive end. Really seems like a nice contrast to Hibbert/Mahinmi if Frank Vogel wants to play a different style. Allen finished with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocks which backs up Vogel's post-game assessment of Allen, "He's just solid."
- Whittington was also a big surprise on the offensive end, showing a quick release and nice shooting touch while making all five of his shots to finish with 11 points. It is remarkable that Whittington is able to play after recovering from a broken leg last May. He is a guy at the back edge of the roster so he still needs to earn a spot on the regular season roster. He took a big step in that direction on Tuesday night. But if he really wants to make an impact, the rook will have to work on that defense and keeping tabs on his man.