Pacing the Competition (Pacers 109, WOLVES 99)

So, the Wolves lost last night to the Pacers 109-99 (box score). What did we learn? For one thing, the Pacers are good. Really good. Maybe the 3rd best team in the East, depending on what you think about the Sixers, Hawks, and Magic. A lot of words have been typed about the Sixers resurgence, and while they’re playing great, I like Indiana better from top to bottom. They don’t have a lot of weaknesses, they play hard, and their pieces fit together nicely. They were 14-6 coming into last night’s game, but the buzz around the game made it feel like the Wolves should be the favorite. The bad loss was a painful reality check that should  remind the Wolves that progress does not a good team make.

A few bullets:

* The Wolves throw away minutes when they start Wes and Darko. Both started; each played 18 minutes.  Wes went 2-6 with 2 turnovers and a (-12). Darko was 2-9 with 2 turnovers and a (-15).  Yes, +/- is a slippery metric for single-game performance. But look at their season stats. They’re entirely consistent with both the horrendous efforts we saw last night and what we’ve seen with our own eyes all season. Adelman must see it too, right? A combined 4 for 15 with 4 turnovers and (-27) is hardly an uncommon line for these two. Playing either of them, let alone both, is really hurting the team.

* More Wes/Darko: It’s even more frustrating and confounding that they got those minutes last night since Adelman had a fuller squad at his disposal. I get that Hibbert and Granger/George look like matchup problems for Pek/AR and Beasley/Williams, respectively. But all three of those Pacers pretty much did what they want against Darko and Wes. Why not counter with Williams and Beasley and initiate matchup problems for IND? Last night was a tactical #fail for Adelman, his first and hopefully last of the season.

* Speaking of Paul George: He MIGHT be better than Wes. PG ended up in foul trouble, but when he was out there… whoa. He did it all. For starters, he defended Rubio as well as anyone this season; he also hit an impressive variety of shots, going 4-6 on fadeaways, threes, drives, etc. You name it, it’s in George’s arsenal. But that’s not all: George rebounds and can block shots too. For the night, he was +14 in just 19 minutes of action.

* The Pacers: I don’t want this to turn into a “__________ are so good” sort of discussion that was so common the last few seasons, when every Wolves drumming left us feeling like our opponent was just THAT GOOD… but as I said at the top of the post, the Pacers are pretty damn good. Granger won’t always light it up on this scale–he went for 36–but his 9-19 shooting wasn’t way outside his norm either.  Granger made some perimeter shots, carved up the Wolves D, and drew all kinds of fouls in the process.

* The Pacers got momentum after Granger picked up a tech in the third for a pushing match with Love.  The two took it outside, 21st century style–which of course involves Twitter. Love dissed Indy in the post-game interviews, and Danny took it to Twitter. They may be questioning each other’s MASCULINITY through SMS as I write this.

* Roy Hibbert: He’s really good. Hibbert scored easily on Darko (6-9 for 15 points) and showed off a variety of nice moves with his back to the basket. For a 7’2″ player, Hibbert has good footwork and surprising athleticism.  In a league largely devoid of star post players, Hibbert could make an All-Star team before he’s done.

What were your takeaways from this one?

Wolves record: 10-12



by | February 2, 2012 · 11:56 AM

8 responses to “Pacing the Competition (Pacers 109, WOLVES 99)

  1. We have a depth problem. Our talent is spread too evenly, too deep. Last night it was apparent that Adelman didn’t know what to do with all these healthy guys. I know Kahn said we probably won’t be making moves this year, but we need to soon. We need to dish out 3-4 of these guys who are (VERY) interchangeable role players for 1-2 players of more focused talent (i.e a sharpshooter and a real center).

    Also, I feel I am the only one anxiously awaiting Malcolm Lee’s debut (which is when again?) He looked like a Man in the pregame appearance he had, lightning quick and strong. Might be trade bait given our redundancy there, but nevertheless, he’s talented.

    • Some feelings may be hurt, but Adelman has spoken about his preference for a 9-man rotation, and I’m surprised and disappointed that we haven’t really seen it. Last night, 11 guys played for the Wolves. Like I mentioned, 36 valuable minutes were wasted on Darko and Wes. Now, I realize Hibbert is huge so there’s a defense to playing Darko, but how about going small when Hibbert is on the bench? He sat 13 minutes and that could have been time for the Beasley-Williams-Love trio to set a fire out there with some offense… Why does Wes Johnson get a single minute of playing time when Webster, Barea, and Beasley are healthy and not in foul trouble? 18 minutes?!

      I’m interested to see Malcolm Lee, but not expecting a whole lot. A second rounder coming off knee surgery is probably not going to make a big splash, I wouldn’t think…

  2. Maybe a tad unfair on Darko last night…we could all see he was blowing hard as time went past which could be a residue from the illness…I’m trying hard to be positive. I thought he did okay, initially, against Hibbert and I think most of Hibbert’s points were sneaked against Pek. I reckon Stop’n’Pop over on CH pretty much nailed it today…I don’t really have anything to add to that.
    From last night it was patently obvious that the Twolves could be doing with another veteran around the place…anyone think Ray Allen would be possible, with the right package….I know there has been talk of this before but do you think Ray would come to the Twolves or would he rather a contender?

    • I remember Hibbert scoring a few times on Darko, but they were pretty tough shots. Darko is useful in a limited way against bigs like Hibbert. I’d just rather they try to force a matchup problem for Hibbert to deal with than force a really bad offensive player into the lineup to shoot 2-9 and turn the ball over. Darko’s +/- was pretty reflecting of his performance last night, I think.

      • Yeah, you’re right Andy…I’m just looking for some positive spin probably. Offensively Pek has been a revelation in the past few games and very consistent into the bargain….never thought I’d hear myself say that but good on the big guy.

  3. littleboxes

    enjoyed the write up.

    Rick Adelman is a good coach who has consistently trucked out a bullsh*t starting lineup. What gives? I’m hoping that the Wes and Darko playing time is geared towards the accumulation of irrefutable evidence that they are NOT a part of the future and need to be traded. I think that there still might be tension in the organization as to who drives the decision-making on personnel. If this is true, then Adelman needs to prove to Taylor Corp-Kahn that Wes Johnson cannot play basketball. Unfortunately, this strategy involves two things I don’t like

    1. That Adelman has power but not ultimate power
    2. That the Wolves give Wes Johnson playing time

    • The “why” on Wes’ playing time a head scratcher. I could sort of see it when Mike and Martell were out–who else is going to defend scoring wings? But now that they’re back, what’s going on? Beasley could have taken every single minute of Wes’s (21 minutes to become 39) and it isn’t unrealistic to think it might have swayed the outcome of the game. Maybe that’s an overstatement, I don’t know. I know that the team really struggled with Wes on the court.

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