So thaaaat’s what Danny Granger needed to find his shooting touch — a nasty bout of gastro to get all that bad shooting SH*T out of his system.
After missing in the loss against a very good 76ers team, Granger finally snapped out of a season-long funk against the Atlanta Hawks tonight, pouring in a season-high (and Pacers season-high) 24 points on…wait for it…9-16 shooting, including 3-5 from three-point range and 3-3 from the line. He even had 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Unbelievable.
Oh yeah, and the Pacers won the game with ease, 96-84, though most of the fourth quarter was pretty much garbage time after the Pacers went up by 21 with a dominant 27-9 third quarter. With the win the Pacers get off to a good start on this rough stretch and currently stand at 7-3 for the season (4-0 at home).
Granger’s return to form was the big news (let’s hope he can keep this up), but there were also a few other tidbits:
- Lance Stephenson also returned from an ankle injury and put up a career high 12 points on 5-7 shooting, to go with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, a block and 3 turnovers. Maybe Lance was getting nervous watching AJ Price play and realizing how lucky he was that Vogel had put him ahead of Price in the rotation.
- George Hill was the third returnee (from back injury) and played conservatively, putting up 4 points in 23 minutes.
- Jeff Pendergraph made his long-awaited debut tonight in a Pacers uniform. Though he played only 4 minutes of garbage time, Pendergraph grabbed 2 rebounds (1 offensive) but missed all 4 of his field goal attempts (some badly). With Hansbrough, Foster, Amundson and Pendergraph, the Pacers have four psycho hustle rebound grabbers on rotation. Love it.
- Speaking of hustle, Roy Hibbert continued his stellar play with yet another double-double (12 points, 11 rebound, 4 assists and 4 blocks in just 24 minutes. The most impressive thing about Hibbert’s season thus far apart from the improved rebound numbers (almost 10 a game after averaging 7.5 last season)? Almost 55% shooting from the field after shooting less than 50% in each of his first three seasons. He could use some work on his free throw shooting though, which has inexplicably dropped to 63%, the lowest of his career.
- I keep saying David West is a rock, and he was solid again tonight with 12 points (5-8 shooting), 4 rebounds, 2 steals and a block in 24 minutes. If he can continue his steady recovery from ACL surgery I believe he will be the most consistent Pacer by mid-way through the season, someone who can comfortably put up 15 points every night.
- The biggest WTF moment came at the end of the third quarter, when Jeff Foster made his only field goal attempt of the night — a three pointer at the buzzer.
- All 13 Pacers played tonight and only Price and Pendergraph went scoreless. Impressive stats include 25 assists on 39 made field goals, 13 steals and 10 blocks, though 16 turnovers is a little high.
A lotta tough games coming up, and a chance for the Pacers to prove they can win on the road. First up, the Toronto Raptors, whom the Pacers have already beaten once this season. Sure they aren’t top quality opposition, but as bad as the Raptors are they do have 4 wins this season, including against the Knicks and the Timberwolves. Pacers better not take them for granted or they’ll be taking another step back after this promising step forward today.