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Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Pacers beat the Sixers, get closer to clinching playoff spot

The Pacers took care of business against the Sixers as they won by a final score of 120-111.

Paul George led the team in scoring with 27 as he continues to make the game look easy.

The Pacers were not playing games early. There was no (terrible-no-good-pun-alert) love for Philadelphia tonight, as Paul George nearly outscored the 76ers by himself in the first quarter with 17 to their 20. Pacers were rolling and up 15.

In the second, the bench needed to keep attacking. They did, and when a shot was missed, Allen and Seraphin gobbled offensive rebounds. The lead extended to 21. Quick shout to former Mad Ant Alex Poythress who hit two 3s for Philadelphia in the quarter (five in the game). Every NBA team has good players, so a run by the 76ers capitalizing on some sloppy play cut the Pacers lead to 9.  It became a game again. At halftime the Pacers led by 10.

10 quickly became five due to an ugly third quarter start. Three turnovers (two by Ellis) had Pacers Twitter in a tizzy. Remember what I said about not playing games? The Pacers responded (tizzy reduced), ending the quarter up 11 thanks to season-best performance by Kevin Seraphin with 17 points on the night and sharp team passing.

In the fourth, Nate rode the bench, playing Allen, Seraphin, CJ, Brooks, and Lance. It was a unit that could score and get rebounds, but not one that could stop much on defense. The 76ers took advantage and made it to the line with ease. With 9:15 to go, they were already in the penalty. Still, the Pacers just needed to tread water, and they did.

As the starters trickled back in, things settled. Philadelphia trapped, scrapped, and hustled (also hit a banked 3), but the Pacers made the right play more times than not and kept the 76ers at arms’ length. Huge games for Thad and Myles and **SPICE ALERT**

Gerald Henderson (literally) pulled Paul George into a feud. I was putting the final touches on that last paragraph when Henderson tried to take some teeth with an elbow to the face. PG had put an elbow in his back the play before, which was somehow reviewable? Garbage.

 

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Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Paul George and the Pacers light the Magic defense on fire, win third straight

The Pacers control their playoff destiny. Win all three games, and you are in. Lose, and you have to hope others lose. Tonight, the Pacers could not afford to play like they normally play on the road. They didn’t.

The Pacers shot a season-high 59% on their way to a 127-112 win over the Orlando Magic. 

Paul George had 37 points, 5 assists and 7 rebounds. Myles Turner had 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Paul George continues to resemble the Human Torch as he made 13 of his 21 shots and looked basically unstoppable all night.

The win puts the Pacers in great playoff position as they are in the 7th-seed currently with the Nets beating the Bulls. If Heat lose tonight, Pacers could clinch a playoff spot with just one more win.

Early, Terrance Ross was hot from 3, hitting three straight and scoring all of Orlando’s points. Jeff Teague defensively (you are reading this correctly) made a difference, forcing two Orlando turnovers, and the Pacers took an early lead. Orlando, though, couldn’t miss a shot from 3 (6-7). Still, the Pacers ended the quarter up 1 (39-38 which sounds like a halftime score during the Vogel era).   But, I feel like I need to do this now, with only a few games left (enters sidebar)

Monta Ellis is so often a negative on the court, I am flabbergasted. I cheered the Ellis signing when it happened, thinking he easily had several years left to play at a high level. He doesn’t. Without the ability to hit 3s consistently, shifting his game like Vince Carter, he cannot afford to miss layups and within 17 feet. He does. Often. Defensively, he is crafty, occasionally able to pilfer steals, but the majority of possessions he just cannot handle the opposing 2 (leaves sidebar).

The first half ended with the Pacers up 68-59. PG, Turner, and Thad could not miss, and Lance’s ability to put pressure on Orlando’s defense was the difference.

The third quarter saw an early Magic timeout. The end of the quarter saw two 3s. From Lance. LANCE EFFECT! TOOT TOOO! Get on this train if you have been skeptical. Pacers entered the fourth in complete control and remained that way. 

Stephenson continued his strong play with the Pacers, finishing +12 while he was on the court with 8 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists.

 

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: #LanceEffect still in Full Effect vs Bucks

The Pacers are playing like a playoff team. Also, the #LanceEffect is real. Despite opening the game 0-5 from the field, the Pacers ended the quarter up four, weathering a double-digit scoring effort by The Alphabet. 

In the second, despite some haphazard play by both teams, the Pacers bench was able to provide some offense AND defense. The Bucks committed more than 10 turnovers in the first half. The Pacers know they have to win, and they played like it. They ended the half up six.

I had two questions: Will the Bucks start hitting open 3s (they had several)? Will the Pacers open just as cold in the third as they did in the first?  I was relieved on both fronts, through the first 9 minutes of the half, anyway. In the third, the Pacers shot 11-15 with 3 minutes to go, and Mirza Teletovic, the Bosnian bomber, hadn’t hit his fourth three of the game yet. Still, the Pacers ended the third up 12. When my daughter cried with 30 second to go and I had to soothe her back to sleep, I left the computer screen with a smile on face—not the usual “we’re all going to die” existentialist dread that has consumed by Pacers heart.  Thanks, this Pacers team.

The fourth quarter saw Lance continue his recent shooting success from three, but more importantly, his passing created opportunities for teammates. His shooting will come and go, but his playmaking ability is why he is here, and that should be there every night.  He finished with five assists tonight. 

The Pacers were humming. Brooks drew two fourth quarter charges (one that put Middleton out of the game) and hit a couple threes, PG got to the line, and the Bosnian bomber started to miss. Pacers win. It should be noted that Kevin Seraphin had his best game of the season. Kudos to KS. And shoutout to Nate McMillan for shortening the rotation to include just one big off the bench.

Final: 104-89 as they beat the Bucks for the first time this season after losing by an average of 16 points in the first three meetings.

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh): Paul George and LeBron James battle as Pacers fall in double OT

Paul George and the Indiana Pacers refused to back down from the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, but George’s 43 points, 9 rebounds, and 9 assists weren’t quite enough as the Pacers fell in double overtime by a final score of 135-130.

This was another game that felt like it could have been won numerous times by the Pacers who had leads both in regulation and in the first overtime with under a minute left. 

At one point, the Pacers had Paul George at the free throw line down just one with two seconds left, but George missed the first before making the second to send it to double overtime.

Everytime the Pacers seemed to have the game in the hand, LeBron James would either make a play himself or find an open teammate for three as the Cavs seemed to rarely miss down the stretch. No plays bigger than James finding JR Smith for 3 with just 2.3 seconds left that gave Cavs the lead or his assist to Kevin Love in double OT that pushed the Cavs lead back to four and sealed the game.

George scored 13 points in the second overtime alone, becoming just the second player ever to do so in a loss according to ESPN Stats & Info.

James somehow topped George’s fantastic day with a 41-point triple double, adding 16 rebounds and 11 assists.

George and James went back and forth throughout the night bringing back memories of the playoff series between them as both superstars played out of their minds tonight.

James and George had a long discussion after the game ended that was reminscient of James giving George props after the Birdman dunk and then James answering with a 3-pointer. Game respect game.

Speaking of 2014, Lance Stephenson made his re-debut for the Pacers and while his line of four points, three rebounds and three assists may not sound like he had much of an impact on the game, it’s clear he’ll be an asset to the team for the rest of this season and potentially the next two.

The Pacers essentially gave Lance the keys to the offense with the bench unit and we saw glimpses of the bully-ball drives and smooth passes that make Stephenson a challenge to defend. He took a few too many midrange jump shots and picked up five fouls while guarding James but this was a good first step for Stephenson integrating into the team.

James and Stephenson were even constantly yapping at each other especially at the free throw line. Even while Stephenson wasn’t in the game, James was still talking to Stephenson.

Early in the season or if the Pacers had solidified their playoff spot, this would have been an encouraging, moral victory. Instead, it’s another game that the Pacers might be wishing that they had back if they end up on the outside looking in.

The loss puts the Pacers behind the Bulls by a full game after they beat the Pelicans and tied with the Heat after they lost to the Nuggets.

The Pacers saw great performances from Thaddeus Young, who had 17 points and nine rebounds after just three quarters but was mostly shackled to the bench with McMillan mostly going with Monta Ellis and CJ Miles against the Cavs smaller lineup down the stretch, and Miles, who scored 11 points in the fourth quarter on his way to a season-high 27 points and six rebounds. Both Miles and Young were often making the hustle plays and finding ways to get loose balls that they had no business getting.

Jeff Teague struggled with holding onto the ball early but played well with 17 points and 11 assists. 

Myles Turner still seems reluctant to shoot the ball when open as the instructions from the Pacers coaching staff to “distribute more” even had him hesistating to shoot a potential game winner at the end of regulation, but he was as solid on defense as ever. He led the Pacers in minutes at 47, but took only eight shots. He retweeted this after the game.

The Pacers can still sneak into the playoffs if they bring this type of effort the rest of the way, but if the Pacers fail to make the playoffs, we still got to see playoff Paul George tonight. And man, it was glorious.

George McGinnis elected to the Hall of Fame

A true Indiana basketball legend finally received his due today as George McGinnis was elected to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

McGinnis had seemed to come to peace with never being elected back in 2015.

“I probably won’t get inducted”, McGinnis said then. “I know and I know the guys I played with know what I did and what I brought to the game. That’s good enough for me.”

McGinnis was a key part of the Pacers ABA dynasty and joins fellow recent Hall of Fame inductees Mel Daniels, Roger Brown, and Bobby “Slick” Leonard from those ABA Championships.

“I’ve seen every player that’s come down the road the last 60 years,” Leonard told the Indy Star, “and you’ve got to be kidding me. There are guys in the Hall of Fame that Big George would eat alive.”

McGinnis’s career achievement list is long and impressive: 2-time ABA Champion, 1974-75 ABA Co-MVP with Julius Erving, six All-Star selections in a span of just seven seasons, and his number 30 is retired by the Indiana Pacers.

His Co-MVP season is unparalleled by anyone in basketball history with 29.8 points, 14.3 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game. No one can match those incredible numbers in a single season.

McGinnis improbably led the Pacers to the ABA finals that season after Roger Brown and Mel Daniel were no longer with the team. They lost to the Kentucky Colonels 4-1.

McGinnis also won an Indiana High School championship while he was attending Washington High School in Indianapolis and was named Mr. Basketball. He also played at Indiana University and was the first sophomore to lead the Big Ten in scoring while averaging 29.9 points and 14.7 rebounds per game.

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Raptors beat Pacers again behind DeRozan’s 40 points

The Pacers needed to find something. They needed to find their offense, their defense, their energy, and tonight, they fought in a way they did not fight in Memphis, but it all fell apart in the third quarter as the Pacers fell to the Raptors 111-100.

The first quarter had the Pacers playing with purpose. Teague was able to find his offense, and Toronto runs were matched. Halfway through the second, the Pacers had hit 5-9 from 3, and Lavoy Allen had pulled three offensive rebounds. When Lavoy plays like this—snagging offensive rebounds and screening well—he makes the trade that sent Granger to Philadelphia slightly more palatable (…nah, it still tastes bad). Toronto had their own second-chance luck that kept the game close, but the Pacers ended the half up two.

In the third, Toronto took the lead and things started to get away until a Myles Turner three. Derozan scored 16 in the quarter, once catching PG on a pump fake to head to the line (he caught most of the Pacers lineup with that move), but a Pacers run that included a capital D Dirty block by Turner put the Pacers ahead. But, by the end of the third, a Raptors run had the Pacers down 12.

That run was more like that scene in Jurassic Park where the jeep gets away from the T-Rex, except this time the T-Rex caught the Jeep, ate the tires, and somehow shot the body into a prehistoric tree-basket.

The fourth quarter had the Pacers bench stop the lead from ballooning, but things did not look great. Things more or less stayed that way, but the Pacers fought, I will give them that, but could not get stops. Derozan shot 20 free throws on his way to 40 points as they were fooled by his pump fake over and over again. Pacers lose their third straight and are just a half game ahead of the Bulls for the final playoff spot.

Is Lance here yet?

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Grizzlies maul Pacers

Before we walk through this game, you need to turn your head to the right and blow gently. Lance is back! Lance will make ’em dance. Lance should make you dance. If nothing else, an injured Stuckey is gone and some much needed energy will hopefully be injected into this team. Now to the game.

In the first quarter, Mike Conley and the Grizzlies went off. Conley missed one shot on his way to a 16 point quarter, and the Pacers could not answer. At one point, the Grizzlies led 30-10. PG made his way to the free throw line, which was nice, but it took Aaron Brooks—he is still on the team, I promise—hitting three 3s to keep the Pacers in the game.

In the second, Nate continued to roll with a bench lineup that, though it was worthless last night, was playing well on the road. CJ opened with a 3. Brooks hit his fourth of the game. Mike Conley didn’t care. I think just typing Mike Conley’s name might burn my fingers—he was that hot, hitting 6/7 from 3. The Pacers trailed by 19.

The second half would require at least two sustained runs by the Pacers to get back in the game. They got half of one, then Memphis called time to squash it and their lead jumped to 23. PG hit two 3s to end the quarter, cutting the lead to 17 and breathing a small breath of hope, but I know better.

The fourth quarter happened, probably. PG led the team with 22 points and exited around the five minute mark. Is Lance here yet?

Pacers lose. By a lot. They are now under .500 for the season and in the 8th seed, only one and a half games ahead of the Bulls.

Return of Born Ready: Pacers working on bringing back Lance Stephenson

The Vertical is reporting that the Indiana Pacers are working on a deal to bring back Lance Stephenson after they officially waived Rodney Stuckey earlier today.

Stephenson, who famously declined a 5-year, $44 million deal with the Pacers when hit free agency just a few seasons ago, has played for five teams in the past three seasons: the Hornets, Clippers, Grizzlies, Pelicans and Timberwolves.

Update: Now official, Pacers signing Lance to a 3-year deal.

Pacers get a wing for just $4 million for rest of this season and the next. Then if it works out, Pacers can keep Stephenson around for another year on a very cheap contract by utilizing his team option.

The fit is questionable as the Pacers replace one ball dominant guard with another, but Stephenson will bring energy and the crowd at Banker’s Life will be happy to see a fan favorite back on the court.

Stephenson should provide more defensive ability than Stuckey ever did as well. Stephenson likely won’t provide the Pacers will much outside shooting that they need as he’s only taken 12 shots from 3-point range this season and has hit just one.

Pacers waive Rodney Stuckey

The Vertical’s Shams Charania reports that the Pacers are waiving Rodney Stuckey. This move will eliminate his player option for next season and save the Pacers $7 million in next season’s salary cap.

Stuckey injured his patellar tendon and would have essentially been out for the rest of the season for the Pacers unless they made an unexpected deep playoff run.

Stuckey’s contract is one of three deals that the Pacers have that are unique to the NBA in that the final season’s player options can be avoided if the player is waived before the regular season ends.  ESPN’s Zach Lowe reported this last week. Stuckey’s injury likely sealed his fate. 

CJ Miles has a similar deal but won’t be waived as the Pacers are desperate for wing depth and shooting. Monta Ellis could be waived, but not until the end of next season to avoid the final year on his contract if he continues to decline.

Rodney Stuckey came to the Pacers on a veteran-minimum deal in 2014-15 and shot a career-best 39% from 3-point range. Stuckey never showed that kind of consistent shooting again and struggled to stay healthy during the past two seasons. In 39 games this season, Stuckey was averaging a career-low 7.2 points per game while shooting only 37% from the field.

With Al Jefferson and Glenn Robinson III also injured, the Pacers will likely look to add another healthy player to the roster with a spot opening up. Two former Pacers are currently available: Tyler Hansbrough and Lance Stephenson.

Hansbrough has been playing for the Mad Ants and lighting the D-League defenses on fire with his awkward, effective post game. Hansbrough has averaged 17.6 points and 12.2 rebounds in 13 games in Fort Wayne.

Stephenson got a chance with the Timberwolves with a 10-day contract, but the Wolves let him go once it expired. Stephenson averaged 3.5 points in 11 minutes per game during his time in Minnesota.

The Pacers could also look at Alex Poythress and Ben Bentil who are currently playing with the Mad Ants as well.

https://twitter.com/indycers/status/847108773323980800

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Pacers lose a heartbreaker to Wolves

Remember, in Bankers Life, the Pacers usually resemble a playoff team. Tonight, they began the game passing well, attacking the basket, finding open shots (sometimes so open they air-balled two in the first quarter), and clamping down defensively. They looked good, and Paul George made sure Andrew Wiggins looked bad (2-9 for five points in the first half with two turnovers)—again. PG put up 25 and it looked easy. But, we know the story: the Pacers bench just cannot hold leads most nights, especially now with injuries to Albus and Stuckey affecting rotations, so a Minnesota comeback was inevitable.  The Wolves ended the half up two.

In the second half, the starters would have to create separation.  Unfortunately, they wanted to talk, but they forgot about Dieng, who with a three put the Wolves up nine with five to go in the third. After a Pacers timeout, the team locked in, and a 12-0 run had the Pacers humming: PG and Teague took over, making strong moves around the basket and sharp passes to it.

In the fourth, the Wolves attacked the Pacers bench, like any smart team would, and with nine minutes to go, Nate had no choice but to bring Teague back into the game with the Pacers up two. They pushed the lead to nine. PG put up 37 and had four steals. Teague dropped 20 and 10. Despite KAT’s huge numbers (37 points ), the Pacers should have won this game. But, Ricky Rubio had a chance to steal it, getting fouled behind the arc with the Wolves down two. Fans everywhere will have trouble accepting that call for awhile. He made all three. Wolves squeak out a win: Pacers one less point than the Wolves.

 

Two Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick Cap: Pacers take care of business against the Sixers

The Indiana Pacers bounced back with a win against the Philadelphia 76ers by a final score of 107-94 and find themselves tied for 5th in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

Myles Turner tied his career high in rebounds with 16 and added a very efficient 17 points while making seven of his nine shots. This after scoring 20 points on his birthday in his previous game. Hopefully this is a sign of his slump coming to an end.

“You played like a man tonight,” Teague told Turner during his post-game interview, “that because you’re 21?”

Turner told Jeremiah Johnson that because his offensive game has been in a bit of a slump that he came in wanting to do all the small things, rebound everything and block every shot. 

Paul George led the team in scoring with 21 points as he continued his great offensive play in the month of March.

Al Jefferson went down with a painful injury in the second half. Early prognosis is a sprained ankle, but Jefferson went off the court in a wheelchair and will likely be out for awhile.

Due to tiebreakers, the Pacers remain in 7th-place.

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Pacers late rally falls short against Nuggets

The last time the Pacers played the Nuggets, they were on the cusp of showing true grit, ready to abandon their inconsistent play and announce to the NBA they had gelled as a team and could beat the scrappy Nuggets with ease.  Then, they gave up 140 points and were publicly shamed on national television.  Tonight, at home, the Pacers would look for revenge.

But…by revenge, I mean the Nuggets would look every bit as deadly as their performance in the shadow of Big Ben, scoring 34 first quarter points, and the Pacers had to hold on to keep things close. The bench unit, without GR3, would have to respond.  If you just read this sentence and thought, “Jesus…” you would be surprised to learn the bench did well, cutting the Denver lead to three with 8 minutes to go in the half.  A mix of strong plays by Ellis and awful plays by Stuckey before the starters trickled back in saw the Pacers get close, but in the final minutes of the quarter,  a 17-4 run put the Nuggets up 64-53.

In the third, Mighty Aaron Brooks hit some threes to make things a little interesting, but poor defense leading to too many fouls had Denver in the bonus with more than half the quarter to go.  In the fourth, the Nuggets were in the bonus, again, with more than half the quarter to go, but the game became watchable. The difference: PG got HOT. The free throw differential was too much to overcome (Denver was +32…32…32!!!!!).  Pacers lose: 117-125

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Paul George scores 37, but Pacers fall to Celtics

At home, the Pacers play like a playoff team, but on the road they often play like my YMCA rec team.  To win in Boston, they would have to play better than a mix-match of professors and General Studies students.

Early, this was the case.  Teague was active, poaching a steal like a slick pick-pocket in a Masshole dive, making sharp passes for easy buckets, and even hitting from long range. Lavoy Allen made an appearance late in the first, pulling down offensive board after board, but the Pacers were never able to pull away due to cold shooting from anyone not named Teague or George, and Boston capitalized, mixing lineups to expose the Pacers bench. The Celtics, despite their sloppiness (six turnovers), ended the first up 21-19. The second quarter did not provide much relief for the Pacers, and a costly offensive foul on PG led to a last second 3 by Bradley to send the Pacers into the locker room down 7.

The third quarter saw both teams get hot, but the Celtics, despite shooting a little worse from the field than the Pacers, pushed the lead to 14 to enter the fourth after a wild end-of-quarter sequence that had Brooks fouling a falling Marcus Smart who converted the and-1.  Nate rode the 30+ point night from PG into the fourth, and once Teague joined him, the Pacers cut the lead to seven with five minutes to go to make it a real game.

They never got closer than six. Teague (25) and PG (37) were the only two in double figures, and GR3 and CJ didn’t see a minute in the fourth, inexplicably (CJ got in during the final minute with the Pacers down 10+). Ellis was 2-10 with 3 turnovers. The bench bright spot was Lavoy Allen, who pulled a season-high 14 rebounds.

Pacers lose: 100-109

Lowe: Pacers have a way to rid themselves of player options for Stuckey, Ellis

Zach Lowe of ESPN wrote a column on the Indiana Pacers earlier this week that highlights the Paul George situation and looks ahead to the very interesting summer that awaits the Larry Bird and the franchise.

One thing that Lowe said didn’t make his column that he shared to Ramon Shelburne on his podcast, the Lowe Post, was a unique situation that the Pacers have with three contracts currently on the books with player options: CJ Miles and Rodney Stuckey’s options for the 2017-18 season and Monta Ellis’s option for 2018-19.

Details at around the 47:00 mark if you want to listen. Explained below as well.

Lowe says that the Pacers could waive any of those three players before the regular season is over and their player options would go off their books for the salary cap next year (This would apply for next season for Ellis since his player option is for 2018-19). Lowe says that it’s believed that these are the only three contracts like this in the entire league where the player options essentially vanish if the players are waived before the regular season ends.

This means that if the Pacers desired they could waive Stuckey before the regular season is over, and it would essentially be like he declined his player option for next season. This only works if the Pacers waive him before the regular season ends, otherwise Stuckey gets to choose whether or not to accept his player option. If the Pacers actually waived him after the regular season ends, Stuckey automatically gets the $7 million player option and it counts against the Pacers salary cap.

Miles is on an incredibly cheap, team-friendly contract at just $4 million per year, so the Pacers won’t be looking to get out of his contract early by ditching one of few players currently on the roster that can space the floor, and Miles is almost guaranteed to decline his option and cash in in free agency this off-season. The Pacers would like to keep him, but it will cost much more than he’s currently making.

Lowe doesn’t think that the Pacers would release Stuckey before the season even though he said the Pacers would probably like to not have that $7 million on their books and even looked for ways to move him at the deadline (reports that a Stuckey for John Henson deal was discussed). Lowe’s main reasoning is that it wouldn’t look good to Paul George if the Pacers were getting rid of a rotation player before the playoffs.

Stuckey, however, was replaced in the rotation by Aaron Brooks during the Pacers’ last game after many straight poor performances from Stuckey, who has struggled playing backup point guard while paired with Ellis. If the Pacers like what they see from Brooks as the backup point guard for the rest of the season and Stuckey remains out of the rotation, Bird would probably be much more likely to consider this course of action.

Stuckey and Ellis have always been redundant to the roster as poor-shooting slashing guards and removing the possibility of Stuckey, who has also struggled with injuries while with the Pacers, returning next year and opening up an additional $7 million in cap space (Pacers will have about $20 million in cap room if Stuckey accepts his option) could help Bird tremendously as he tries to improve the roster into a contender this summer that will convince George to remain in Indiana.

The Pacers could be better off this year going with just a guard rotation of Jeff Teague, Miles, Ellis, and Glenn Robinson III and leaving out both Stuckey and Brooks completely as they both are poor fits with Ellis coming off the bench. The minutes that Brooks or Stuckey have been getting could easily be split among Robinson, Miles and George, especially as the starters get heavier minutes in the playoffs.

It seems unlikely that Stuckey would be missed this season if the Pacers let him go, but if George is a big fan of Stuckey, Bird could be hesitant to let him go before the playoffs. That $7 million would certainly help the Pacers this summer as they try to convince George to stay however. It is possible that Stuckey declines his option this summer anyway as $7 million is a relatively low total compared to the crazy deals players are signing in free agency now, but he seems to like the team and city, and it’s probably unlikely he would get more from another team this off-season. He may be able to get a similar yearly value, but more than just the one year he has remaining if he does decline.

Lowe thinks that it’s more likely that the Pacers could look to waive Ellis before the end of next year’s regular season if he continues to decline and if the Pacers aren’t very good next year. Monta’s player option is for $11 million for the 2018-19 season and the Pacers should be jumping at an opportunity to clear that contract off the books a year early. We’ll have to wait and see what Bird decides to do when the time comes for both Stuckey and Ellis.

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Alternating W/L Continues with a W Against the Jazz

Stream of consciousness from the @Corner3Ross on tonight’s game.

Before Tipoff

-Nice standing ovation for George Hill and Gordon Hayward. First game back for GHill since the trade. Most fans must still have NCAA on the mind. GODAWGS! I mean PACERS!

-2nd game of a Back to Back which the Pacers normally lose, but, they lost yesterday to the Raptors and like to trade wins with losses lately so…

-A whole lot of Indiana talent on the court. GHill, Hayward, Teague, Trey Dog, Lyles… Only 2 stayed in state. Indiana schools missed out.

1st Quarter

-Aaron Brooks is the first guard off the bench after being out of the rotation most of the year. 2 things with this. Stuckey has really hit a funk and Joe Young really must be that bad at defense to not even get a crack.

-Gordon Hayward has been attacking the rim a lot more this year and it’s paying off. He’s got 10 pts out of the Jazz first 14. On the flip side, Paul George is held scoreless in the 1st…

-And yet, the Pacers lead 28-23 at the end of 1. I’ll take it

-Maybe the Pacers should seriously look into the Hayward Free Agency and not resign PG… nah.. or.. no.. stop it

-Myles Turner still looks hesitant to take a shot but, he’s playing stellar defense. Added a few to the #MylesHighClub already. Did I just hashtag in my head?

2nd Quarter

-Big Al playing over Christmas. Jeff Withey is one of the only bigs Al can play against and dominate still. Non mobile.

-It’s 39-32 middle of the 2nd and PG+Teague+Turner are 3-15 but the Pacers are winning. What is happening?

-CJ Miles has 13 pts on 4-5 shooting. And he’s a Free Agent this summer. Why? WHY?

-Halftime 51-46 Pacers lead. PG 2 to Hayward’s 18. OKIE DOKIE

3rd Quarter

-$20 isn’t bad for the Rik Smits mullet shirt.. oh! Back to the game

-Myles post up!

-Joe Johnson has been playing for 16th NBA seasons, 7 time all star. Feels like forever.

-Gordon Hayward is very very very good at this basketball thing. 30 pts through 3. His 11th 30 pt game this year.

-PG scored! Missed his first 9 shots. Phew.

-The Atlanta Hawks are currently losing to the Hornets. If they lose the Pacers are only a game back of 5th in the East playoff race.

-Jeff Teague is learning from Myles Turner with that chase down. JeffHighClub? TeagueLeague?

-Miss It For Biscuit. Still one of the best promotions in the NBA. Got to remember to run by Hardees tomorrow. Pacers up 80-70 end of the 3rd.

4th Quarter

-I kind of miss the old school NBA of post up when we could watch Albus Jefferson go to work each night often. Was he ever called Little Al?

-Jeff Teague outplaying George Hill tonight.

-Mark Boyle says Rudy Gobert’s father was Rik Smits backup at Marist College back in the day. #TheMoreYouKnow. Also I’ve just thought about the Dunking Dutchman twice in hour.

-Jazz are making a run. Gobert and Hayward leading the charge. Of course they are. Close this out #GoPacers

-My computer keeps wanting to change Gobert to goobers.

-Jazz coach Quinn Snyder looks like the Bank Manager at the start of The Dark Knight. ‘What do you believe in!’

-PG had a season high when the Pacers played in Utah earlier this year and tonight Gordon Hayward has a career high 38

-PG hitting BIG shots when the team needs it the most even when he’s been playing poorly. Yelling ‘This is my City’ while he does.

107-100 Pacers win. On to Boston!

 

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Raptors destroy Pacers

Pacers-Raptors is interesting for a few reasons: they knocked the Pacers out of the playoffs in seven games last year and, this year, they are five games ahead of the Pacers, holding the fourth seed.  

The Pacers play the Raptors three times in the final weeks of the regular season, and a three-game sweep of the Raptors could be huge for Indiana regarding playoff positioning.  

In the first half tonight, though, the Raptors were quick to remind us that winning in Syrup Country would not be easy.  They out-rebounded the Pacers 30-16, Serge Ibaka, their key trade deadline pickup, provided 14 points on 6-8 shooting, and the Raptors ended the first half up 17. I was so frustrated I almost…almost…wanted to never watch Jurassic Park again.

Despite a push in the third that had the Pacers down 12 with the ball, the Raptors responded and pushed the lead to 18 entering the fourth, a monumental comeback task—especially with a game tomorrow against the Fighting George Hill’s. 

In the fourth, Nate’s desperation for something, anything, to stop the Raptor onslaught meant Aaron Brooks entering the game.  He scored five points, but he also had a nasty turnover, passing out of a double-team to no one.  The plan did not work. 

With four minutes to go and IND down 21, the mop up squad was in on both sides.  Give Toronto credit–they hit shots and played hard.  Asked for comment after the game, Nate could only wink at the camera, saying “clever girl…” 

Pacers lose: Raptors a lot, Pacers much less.

Pacers have now won and lost in alternating games in a franchise-record 13 straight games.

Paul George’s signature shoe showing up everywhere

Paul George has joined exclusive company.  In Nike’s 44-year history, fewer than 1% of their endorsed athletes get their own signature shoe.  The PG1 sneakers debuted earlier this year but were not available for purchase until March 3rd.  Since the shoes released close to two weeks ago, they have received glowing reviews from his NBA peers.

Big props from Jared Dudley:

Superstar Dwayne Wade got his pair autographed:

Teammate Jeff Teague sporting his pair:

Players and fans have not been disappointed with the PG1’s.  Aside from aesthetics, have the shoes impacted George’s play on the court?  To the delight of Pacers fans, there is an uptick in the production of PG-13 since the sneakers were released on March 3rd.

Season Averages:  22.2 PTS – 45% FG – 38% 3PT – 6.4 REB

Since the sneakers:  28.3 PTS – 55% FG – 45% 3PT – 8.4 REB

In the 7-game stretch since the PG1’s were released, George’s numbers have a noticeable improvement.  The team however has alternated wins and losses, going 4-3 over the period.  Maybe everyone needs to rock the pair that PG gave each teammate. It certainly is helping former Pacers player Solomon Hill in New Orleans as he put up a career high 30 points wearing the shoes.

George Hill, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Jrue Holiday are other NBA players that have been wearing the PG1.

March Madness has seen a couple of college players lacing them up as well.

They were not good luck for the Villanova player, however, as they fell to Wisconsin and broke brackets everywhere.

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Pacers bounce back against Hornets

The Pacers bounced back from perhaps their worst loss of the season last night at Madison Square Garden with an impressive 98-77 win over the Charlotte Hornets, behind a superhuman performance from Paul George, who had 39 points while making a ridiculous 15 of 21 shots.

“I thought they responded tonight,” said Nate McMillan. “Everybody was all business.”

The Charlotte Horn-Bob-nets-cats have been difficult for the Pacers to contain, largely due to Kemba Walker and Nic Batum.  Tonight, Batum was out due to a migraine that is reportedly so bad he is getting a brain scan (good wishes to him), and the Pacers took advantage—sort of.

George and Turner were active in the first half, scoring 12 and 6 respectively, but most notably, Monta Ellis helped the Pacers hold a tenuous early lead, shooting 4-7 and registering an assist, a rebound, a steal, a block, zero turnovers and one foul.  At the half, though, all things were equal with neither team able to establish any (cough) consistency.

The Pacers wouldn’t repeat their 29-point performance from last night against the Knicks in the second half. George nearly matched that total with 27 points by himself in the final two quarters as hit nearly everything he tossed toward the basket.

“I think we showed what we can do when everyone is locked in and on the same page,” said McMillan.

Teague was on time and on target with his passing especially finding George coming off of screens. He flirted with a triple double with 8 points, 11 assists, and 8 assists.
Noted Pacers-killer Kemba Walker was held to a season-low 7 points as the Pacers defended him better than they have in the last two seasons.

“We did a good job of getting up on our screens in the pick and roll,” said McMillan. McMillan said the team overall did a great job in the second half of keeping the Hornets out of the paint.

Both George and McMillan mentioned that the team had a talk after the game last night but did not share the details. Whatever was said, it was effective–at least for tonight. In the Year of Our Inconsistency, no revelations seem to last long. We’ll see if this one will stick.

 

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick-Cap: Pacers vs. Knicks

If you have not listened to Run The Jewels 3, you should.  It is terrific. On that album, the track “Call Ticketron” repeats the line “Run The Jewels live at the Garden,” as in The Garden, where the Knicks reanimate Spike Lee’s fan-corpse for every home game. Knicks-Pacers is special, and tonight, despite the garbage fire that has been the Knicks season, the matchup between Myles Turner and Kristaps Porzingis was going to be fun to watch.

In the first half, both teams looked comfortable to a fault, neither with any sense of urgency, but the block party bumped with Turner and Porzingis registering 2 and 1 respectively. The Knicks scored 18 points. The Pacers bench held steady and the half ended with the Pacers up 10.

During halftime, the Pacers fell asleep, not taking my advice to listen to Run The Jewels 3. They scored 12 points in the third. The Knicks rejoiced. Still, despite a terrible quarter, the Pacers entered the fourth up two.  A scary moment for Knicks fans happened early, with Porzingis going down with a bruised thigh.  The Knicks took the lead midway through the fourth quarter without KP, and a classic will they win or won’t they win for the Pacers ensued.

They wouldn’t. With about 3:30 to go, the Pacers had gone 7-37 from the field in the second half: (busts out calculator) 19% and had just 20 total points in the half.  Along with cold shooting from almost everyone, PG was a second late on passes out of double-teams too often, leading to six turnovers—one short of Teague’s seven to cap off one of Teague’s worst performances of the season. Melo got hot in the second half and the Pacers…well…they got burnt with perhaps their most embarrassing loss of the season.  

Pacers lose: 81-87

Two-Minute (Two-Ahh) Quick Cap: Pacers vs. Heat

The Pacers managed to hold on for the win against the Miami Heat after a brief scare in the fourth quarter by a final of 102-98.

After the Pacers had a comfortable 6-9 point lead for most of the game, the Heat suddenly hit three straight 3-pointers, including one of the banked-in variety, and took a 1-point lead.

Banker’s Life let out a collective sigh like they’ve seen this story all before, and McMillan called timeout. The Pacers immediately retook control with a Paul George bucket to get the lead back and Myles Turner pushed the lead back to five points a few possessions later with a dunk after fighting for two straight offensive rebounds.

Paul George continued his hot play of late with 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Pacers. Hassan Whiteside had a monstrous 26 points and 21 rebounds, but late in the game Jeff Teague swatted his shot attempt after an offensive rebound that helped the Pacers keep their lead. 

Goran Dragic was out with a missing eye, and the Pacers won an important game that could have dropped them from 6th to 9th in the current playoff standings. 

The Pacers honored their 2000s teams with Jermaine O’Neal, Al Harrington, Jeff Foster, Austin Croshere, Derrick McKey, and Eddie Gill in attendance. Bobblehead honoree Danny Granger was unable to attend due to broadcast commitments.