In just one game, newly acquired Pacer Evan Turner has put to bed questions over whether he is an upgrade over Danny Granger. Turner had 13 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists in 26 minutes in his debut as the Pacers pummeled the shorthanded Lakers 118-98 to improve to 43-13 for the season.
I love Danny Granger, but Turner makes the Pacers second unit so much better. While injuries have rendered Granger to a spot up shooter who can't finish in close, Turner was handling the ball, making plays and finishing baskets. He drove to the hole, posted up and made turnaround jumpers, making Indiana's second unit offense that much more dynamic. With Turner and Stephenson, the Pacers have two guys who can push the ball and make plays. Turner shot 6-12 from the field, 50%, something Granger has done only 9 times in 29 games this season. Sure, it's just one game, but the future looks bright. And if Andrew Bynum can contribute, then the sky's the limit for this team.
The first half of this game was kinda worrying. The Pacers opened up a 12 point lead in the first quarter but allowed the Lakers to creep back in, closing to within 3 points at the break. It was as though the Pacers knew they were better and would eventually pull away, but the lack of intensity and urgency the team was showing was concerning because at one stage it looked as though the Pacers could very well lose.
The start of the second half wasn't that much better, until Paul George visibly picked up his intensity at both ends of the floor and instantly turned the game into a laugher. The lead ballooned to 21 at the end of the third quarter after Evan Turner passed up a difficult jumper to CJ Watson, who drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Then the second unit extended the lead to 33 in the fourth quarter and Frank Vogel cleared the bench.
Paul George gets player of the game honors for the way he stepped up to change the way the game was being played. He shot poorly, 6-18, en route to 20 point, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, but considering he was 2-11 in the first half it's not such a bad performance.
All five starters scored in double figures. David West feasted on the little Lakers guys for 11 points and 12 rebounds, though shot a lackluster 4-12 from the field. George Hill rebounded from his goose egg to score an efficient 14 on 9 shots, doing a little bit of everything. Roy Hibbert had a better game offensively with 10 points on 10 shots to go with 6 boards and 4 blocks. Lance also chipped in with 13, 9 and 3.
The bench did a fairly good job tonight. Scola was cold early but was instrumental in extending the lead in the fourth as he finished with 9 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals. CJ Watson missed just one shot and had 11, while Ian Mahinmi continued to state his case against losing his job to Andrew Bynum by putting up 9 points on 7 shots to go with 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks in just 19 minutes. He's never going to have Bynum's potential, but he was more than serviceable tonight.
The other new addition, Lavoy Allen, didn't score but had 3 rebounds in 5 minutes of garbage time.
The Pacers aren't quite near what they were at the start of the season, but they are starting to make a move towards great basketball again, which is imperative if they want to hold on to their lead in the East over Miami, who trail by just one game in the loss column and 2 games overall.
Next up, the Pacers will host the Bucks on Thursday. The Pacers only beat the Bucks a couple of nights ago 110-100 in Milwaukee and will look to do better than that at home.