On the face of the boxscore it was Danny Granger's game. The Grange Rover snapped out of a mini-New York funk with 25 points and 8 rebounds on 7-17 shooting, including a few dagger three pointers. But really, it was the Pacers bench that won the game for them tonight. Every single bench player racked up double-digit plus-minuses tonight, and the best plus-minus of any Pacers starter was Granger with +2.
Tyler Hansbrough went nuts in the first quarter and scored 17 overall on 7-10 shooting to somewhat offset Blake Griffin's 23. George Hill was at his best with 15, 4 rebounds and 6 assists on 6-7 shooting, including 3-3 from downtown. And of course, the debut of Leandro Barbosa (I told you he's going to be good for this team!), which was celebrated with 12 points ad 3 assists in 18 minutes of action.
Barbosa + Hill is very fun to watch. Two trailblazers that can slash and score in a number of ways. Once they get more familiar with each other the Pacers bench is going to be a lot more dangerous. If only Hansbrough could be more consistent...
On the downside, Dahntay still got some minutes tonight, meaning the guy who loses out in the Barbosa trade is AJ Price. Not to say Price is super but Dahntay, as good as he can be sometimes, is just not a guy I like to watch.
Other things worthy of noting:
After a breakout game against the Knicks last game, it was good to see Roy Hibbert not stinking again. He was okay, with 13 and 7 but took just 8 shots. His best efforts were on the defensive end, keeping DeAndre Jordan in foul trouble and just 2 points on 1-5 shooting.
Don't know what is going on with David West...3 points, all on free throws? He got into foul trouble early but it's inexplicable how a player of his calibre could shoot just three times in 21 minutes. I would have chalked this up as an anomaly but West scored 3 points and 8 points, respectively, in the back-to-back against th Knicks, making it three single digit games in a row.
Biggest disappointment for me was to see the continued struggle of Darren Collison, who didn't have a horrible game but I had expected a lot more of him against his old mentor Chris Paul. Collison usually steps up against Paul and it was upsetting to see him not use the oppotunity to snap out of a funk that feels like it's been going on forever. He just had 4 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists, but on the bright side Paul didn't exactly light him up either (16 and 8)...well, by Paul's usually lofty standards, anyway.
It's not so much Collison's numbers that's been worrying -- it's his ability to get the ball to the right teammate at the right time and knowing when to call his own number...and knowing when not to make boneheaded moves. This is a guy that should be averaging 8 assists a game, not 4.9. I know Vogel's offense doesn't use the PG as much as it should, but Collison is part of the reason the Pacers are dead last in the NBA in assists.
Okily. It was good to get a win. Now the Pacers head to Washington, and let's hope they can get another easy one against the Wizards.