It should never have come down to it, but a win is a win, even if it was an ugly one against the winless Washington Wizards.
The Indiana Pacers somehow managed to squander a 20-point lead in the third quarter before David West activated beast mode in the fourth, scoring 13 of his season-best 30 points, including 4 of the team’s last 5 field goals (he assisted on the 5th one to Roy Hibbert), to give the Pacers a hard fought 96-89 road victory. For the game, West shot 10-14 from field, 10-10 from the line and had 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 blocks.
The other encouraging news is that Roy Hibbert finally broke out of a season-long slump to pour in 20 points and 12 rebounds to go with 4 blocks despite battling foul trouble. It’s not a spectacular performance but it’s better than anything we’ve seen from Roy since signing that max contract.
The truth is, while the Pacers will take any win they can get right now, this was still an awful performance. When your team needs to rely on a 32-year-old a year removed from ACL surgery to carry them down the stretch to a tight victory against the worst team in the league missing their two best players (John Wall and Nene), that says a lot about where the Pacers are right now.
Fact is, the West and especially Hibbert won’t play like this every night. Paul George, who is supposed to be having a breakout year, had only 6 points and appears to actually be regressing, while George Hill continues to be wildly inconsistent. Gerald Green has been okay at times, but DJ Augustin and Ian Mahinmi have been outright disasters thus far.
Augustin has been so much (so so so so so much) worse than the guy he replaced, Darren Collison, that it’s not even funny anymore. Calling Mahinmi a poor man’s Lou Amundson might actually be a compliment. That’s how bad things are for them right now. The bench stinks and that’s that.
Are there any answers? Not really. You can expect the team to play better as a unit eventually (because it can’t get much worse) but it’s a stretch to think that they can suddenly rise into the elite having played like turds all season. Frank Vogel has to take some of the blame because the team has to much talent to be the worst offensive team in the league.
Their series win against a Dwight Howard-less Magic and taking the partly Bosh-less Heat to 6 games appears to have given the team a false sense of hope and entitlement. They thought they would just have to come back this season and the second seed would be theirs. Oops.
Fortunately, the Pacers get another decent opportunity to get a win against the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday before facing the Spurs and the Lakers (two games that could get really nasty). Here’s to hoping that they can string together their first winning streak of the entire season.