David West decided to flash a glimpse of beast mode (usually reserved for the regular season) tonight as he tallied 24 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals in 27 minutes to lead the Pacers to a 107-89 victory over the Hawks in Atlanta and pushing the team's preseason record to 2-5. This is what we wanted to see, baby!
The Pacers actually fell behind early in this one, trailing 24-15 at the first quarter intermission. But then DWest went to work, scoring 12 points in the second quarter to help the Pacers take a 46-41 lead at the half, then added another 9 points in the third quarter to help the Pacers extend the lead to double digits. And Luis Scola took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 16 of his 20 points against the Hawks' bench squad. The lead exceeded 20 points on a few occasions before some sloppy plays down the stretch resulted in the final score.
I love the West-Scola duo and would love to see the two on the floor together when the Pacers play small ball. Both are crafty offensive players with old school moves and incerdible basketball IQs. Power forward is definitely the team's strrongest position this season, and I think it's quite possible that these two guys will be the team's most reliable scorers all season — West in the first unit and Scola in the second.
Roy Hibbert struggled again, scoring 2 points on 7 shots and George Hill only had 8 points. Lance Stephenson, despite scoring just 6, did well in other areas, pulling down 6 rebounds and adding a team high 8 assists. Paul George was pretty efficient and did most of his damage in the third quarter, finishing with 17 points and 4 rebounds on 5-10 shooting and a perfect night from the charity stripe.
CJ Watson had another solid game off the bench with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists in 22 minutes while missing just one shot anywhere, while Ian Mahimni had a much better outing tonight with 6 points, 2 boards, a steal and a block, plus the team's highest plus-minus at +34.
A promising win because it looks like the Pacers are starting to turn things around a little after a few shaky and rusty games to start off the preseason. The fatigue from the Asia trip must also be starting to wear off, though the effects of these trips can take longer to recover than most people think.
A big question mark still lingers over Danny Granger for now as he has been shut down for the last two preseason games due to that strained calf. The extent to which he can contribute to the team — either on the court or though a trade (sadly0 — will be key to the Pacers' success this season.
The Pacers play one more preseason game in Dallas (and will be looking to avenge an earlier loss) before the regular season starts.