Tag:Roy Hibbert
Posted on: April 18, 2011 11:13 pm
 

Darren Collison sprains ankle on cameraman

Posted by Royce Young

Pacer point guard Darren Collison sprained his ankle late in the second quarter of Game 2 against the Bulls and won't return. He came out for the second half and warmed up, but went back to the locker room, unable to go on the tweaked ankle.

That's big for the Pacers who really rely on Collison to run their offense, score the ball and defend Derrick Rose. Without him, A.J. Price is forced to step up and fill the void. He'll likely return for Game 3, but his official status is day-to-day.

But what's a real shame is how Collison injured his ankle. It actually didn't happen on the court. It happened on the baseline as he stepped on the foot of a cameraman sitting under the Indiana basket.

I understand the placement of camerapeople there and I don't have a better solution as to where to place them, but the fact players have been injured because of it is just plain stupid. Chris Paul actually re-injured his knee last season and was forced to miss most of the season because he stumbled over a cameraman on the baseline.

Players get injured. It happens. But for it to happen because some dude in khakis with a ponytail is sitting under the basket with a Nikon in his hands isn't a good reason for it to happen. There's really just no reason for players -- in a PLAYOFF game to boot -- to be hurt in a situation like that.

Should the camerapeople be moved? Yeah, probably. Just take them back another five feet or something. I don't know if that's even possible, but I just hate that the Pacers chances in a very important game were altered because of something like that.
Posted on: April 18, 2011 1:17 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 1:23 pm
 

Series Reset: Bulls have hands full with Pacers

Posted by Royce Young



The result was what we all expected. The Bulls beat the Pacers in Game 1. But how we got there was the surprising part.

Most everyone saw this as a four-game sweep or maybe the Bulls in five (as our Matt Moore once dubbed that, a "gentleman's sweep"). That could very well remain true as Chicago leads 1-0 and the Pacers may have missed their best opportunity to take a game from the Bulls.

But here's the thing about the Pacers: When they shoot well, they're very good. Frank Vogel has a list of shooters -- Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Brandon Rush, A.J. Price, James Posey, Darren Collison -- that can fill it up in stretches. And that's what they did against the Bulls in Game 1, shooting over 50 percent for most of the game. During the regular season, the Bulls only allowed that in 10 games. (Now of course, Indiana finished up under 50 percent in the game, but the message was sent.)

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What might make Bulls' fans a bit anxious is that Chicago had to beat Indiana with two things: Derrick Rose and the free throw line. Rose went 19-21 on his own from the stripe while the Pacers went 11-17. (Chicago went 26-32 overall.) Take away Rose's transcendent performance (39 points, six assists, six rebounds) and the Bulls are left with their hat in their hands.

Chicago got little to nothing from Carlos Boozer who finished with 12. Luol Deng hit some big second half shots but faded in and out a bit. Other than Kyle Korver, the Bulls bench contributed little offensively. It's a concern for Chicago moving ahead not just in this series with the Pacers, but if they have any plans to go deep into the postseason.

So what can we watch for moving on in this series? Three things:

Chicago's perimeter defense. The Pacers shot 10-18 from 3 for the game and really their outside shooting is almost what did in the Bulls. Across the board, the Pacers were great from 3. Danny Granger was 4-8. Darren Collison, A.J. Price and Brandon Rush combined to go 6-7. Like I said above, the Pacers are a dangerous shooting team (remember that 20-21 third quarter from earlier in the season?).

Rebounding. The Bulls absolutely dominated on the glass, grabbing 21 offensive rebounds. The biggest came with under a minute left as Kurt Thomas tracked down a rebound that forced Indiana to start foul. The Pacers have decent size inside with Roy Hibbert, Tyler Hansbrough and Jeff Foster, but the Bulls are a superior rebounding team with Joakim Noah and Boozer.

The Bulls struggled offensively for a lot of the day, but all those second opportunities piled up. If Indiana cuts that number by three or four, the Pacers probably win.

How the officials handle Rose. Rose's 21 free throw attempts were the most from the opening weekend and is up there in terms of most all-time. The Pacers weren't thrilled with the free throw differential but it's hard to see how they have a ton of room to complain. Rose attacked the rim constantly and while yes, he did get the benefit of some calls, his aggressiveness is what forced the officials' hands.

Without the free throws, Chicago would've been in big trouble. If the next crew of officials lets the game get a bit more physical, it could have an impact. If Rose gets the whistle, you aren't guarding him.
Posted on: April 16, 2011 5:16 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 1:42 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Pacers-Bulls: Back-breaker for Indy?

The Bulls barely survived against the Pacers. But was the best effort for the Pacers in a loss a back-breaker for Indy?
Posted by Matt Moore





Count your blessings, Chicago, and pat yourself on the back for a great fourth quarter. But with the Bulls getting a stiff wake-up call against the Pacers, you'd think that it would set the table for a long, hard-fought series. 

Unless the Bulls just delivered the back-breaker. 

Before we start here, there's going to be a lot of talk about overreaction to one game. And that's totally fair. We need to see how the rest of the series plays out. We need to see more than one could-be outlier game, and whether the trends that put the Pacers in the game hold or totally fall apart. What we want to do, though, is guide you through what's happening, ask the questions the narrative creates, and not feed you traditional talk. We could prattle on about the Bulls and a great win, because that fits the narrative, right? MVP wins the game with a superb effort, and the sweep is on. But that's not what happened. The Pacers pushed the Bulls and exploited a lot of narratives. Yes, Rose was incredible, on offense. But Darren Collison and A.J. Price both had good contributions against Rose's defense, and in the name of all that is holy, can Carlos Boozer guard Tyler Hansbrough? We can't brush over this game. We're still confident the Bulls have this series under firm control, but there's stuff to talk about. That's basketball. 

 

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And one thing to talk about is whether this is a back-breaker for the Pacers. 

Tyler Hansbrough had a huge game (his second of the year against the Bulls). The Pacers shot 56 percent from the arc, when their season average is 35 percent, and 31 percent against Chicago . Four Pacers made double-digits. The Pacers' offensive efficiency was 113.8 against the Bulls Saturday. In the regular season, they were at 93.29 versus the Bulls. Darren Collison torched  Derrick Rose. (Not as badly as Derrick Rose torched Collison, and every one of the Pacers, but still, it should be noted). The Pacers had dozens of things go right for them.

And they lost. 

To have a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter and lose? To lose like that? How do you come back from that? On the one hand, you could argue it gives the Pacers confidence. They can hang with the Bulls, right? They played them tough, in Game 1, on the road. But on the other hand, they played so well in just about every area, good enough to win if the game was 45 minutes long. But it's not, and the Pacers lost. If an 8 seed is going to hang with the 1 seed, it has to be done with emotion and confidence. Instead of walking out feeling like they could take down the Bulls, they just proved they can play as well as possible and walk out with a loss. How does a team that young respond? 

Tyler Hansbrough was a huge emotional lift for the Pacers and, oddly, he's probably the most sustainable success story from Game 1 for the Pacers. Boozer can't guard him. Can't do it. And the pick-and-pop work is the one thing the Bulls' tremendous defense will allow. But unless Hansbrough can go on a ridiculous shooting streak, even that seems circumspect. Meanwhile, Roy Hibbert had a huge start, then completely vanished. There was enough in that game to show that what gave the Pacers the lead won't wind up maintaining as the series goes forward. 

The Bulls allowed the Pacers to push them to the edge, and then largely one player (with a nice Korver three thrown in and a good spurt from Noah, who wasn't great overall) took over and sent them back to the lockers dejected. If the Pacers stare at how close they came and how far they fell, it may be an early end to what looked like a tough series, with even five minutes left in the game. 

That's the impact of a great player in the NBA playoffs. 

Posted on: April 16, 2011 4:23 pm
Edited on: April 17, 2011 1:44 pm
 

NBA Playoffs Bulls-Pacers: Bulls needed the push

Posted by Royce Young



It took 47 minutes and 12 seconds for the Bulls -- the top seed in the entire NBA playoffs -- to take a lead over the 37-win Indiana Pacers. For those first 47 minutes and 11 seconds, it looked like we had the seeds mixed up. The Pacers looked sharp, confident and crisp while the Bulls looked nervous and tight. And, after a three-point play from Tyler Hansbrough that put Indiana up 10 with three minutes left, worried.

But the Bulls have the luxury of possessing a special, special player that wears No. 1 on his back. Derrick Rose was every bit the MVP in this one, keying a 14-1 run for Chicago and leading the Bulls to a hard fought 104-99 victory over the scrappy Pacers. Rose had 39 points and basically carried his team, but it was a smart decision late in the fourth that put the Bulls over the top.

With the game tied at 99-99, Rose had the option to attack in transition. Instead, he deferred to Kyle Korver, who was open on the 3-point line. Korver dropped in a massive shot that pretty much ended the dream day for the Pacers. A brilliant play, and one that showed Rose is entirely willing to trust teammates in big moments, which is a big key for Chicago moving forward.

The story will likely be about how Chicago nearly dropped a dud in the first game, but don't overlook what these young Pacers did. They know they're overwhelming underdogs. They know most aren't giving them a chance to even win a game in this series. Yet with 3:28 left in this game, they led by 10 and really had the Bulls up against a wall.

Every punch the Bulls threw, Indiana came back with two. Danny Granger had a huge second half with 18 points (24 overall), Hansbrough basically took over in stretches and, most importantly, the Pacers played smart. They had this game. They really did. But in those last three minutes, they couldn't figure out where to go for points. It was almost like they looked at the scoreboard for the first time and said, "Holy crap, we're up 10!" and then tightened up and tried to just take a couple knees and run out the clock.

For 97 percent of the game, the Pacers played without fear, without hesitation and without any idea that they were supposed to lose. It was impressive.

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Here's the thing though: This was good for the Bulls. They're a heavy favorite not just to win this series, but the entire Eastern Conference. But they're young and inexperienced. They haven't played this favorite role yet. This is new. And they just got a little message in the mail from Frank Vogel and the Pacers that this is the postseason and you can't just expect to show up and advance.

Maybe it was just me, but I sensed an air of arrogance from the Bulls for the first three quarters. Kind of like they just expected to handle the Pacers. Like they thought the Pacers were just a cricket they needed to squash before leaving the house. Obviously, not the case.

The Bulls didn't play very well, especially in terms of their standards. Their defense was sketchy (allowed 55 points in the first half and 50 percent shooting the first three quarters). The offensive execution was inconsistent with most of Chicago's offense being called "Derrick Rose." All of that compromised Chicago's overall performance and really, the Bulls were lucky to escape with a win.

Look at the shot selection just by Rose. He was 10-23 overall, but 0-9 from 3. He did a terrific job getting to the line (19-21; by contrast Indiana as a team was 14-17), but the Bulls played with the kind of frustration you see in a team that's confused about why they're not up by 15. They kept trying to score six points at a time instead of just taking the game possession by possession.

It's not unexpected though. We've all placed grand expectations on this Bulls team, but really, they're not too different from Indiana. They're young, inexperienced and unproven. Only difference is the Bulls have the target on their back and have to play with the weight of expectation. The Pacers got to play with house money.

Where Chicago won the game was on the glass with 21 offensive rebounds and a 49-34 edge overall. The biggest was the last one by veteran Kurt Thomas with 18 seconds left that forced the Pacers to foul. If Indiana grabs two or three more defensive boards, we're all writing much different stories that probably have headlines like, "Panic time in Chicago?"

But that run in the last three minutes was a title team style effort. It's what you see the great squads do. Lull for 45 minutes, turn it on for three. And win. That last part is the most important.

It's probably better in the end for Chicago to understand that nothing comes easy in the postseason. Playing with fire is dangerous and Tom Thibodeau definitely isn't psyched about how his team played, but he definitely has something to talk about with his group now. The Bulls need to sort some things out. Rose is amazing, but they aren't advancing past Miami if Rose has to score 40 every night in a seven-game series. Other players have to step up. They knew that already, but they got a pretty good reminder of it today against a lesser team.

More than likely, Indiana blew its best chance to steal a game from the Bulls. Now, Chicago has that first one out of the way and it survived. They can refocus, loosen up a bit and just go play their game. The Pacers have the Bulls attention now. That's for sure. And that's probably a good thing for the Bulls going forward.
Posted on: April 14, 2011 1:56 pm
Edited on: April 14, 2011 5:01 pm
 

Pacers-Bulls Preview: Very good, very average

Posted by Royce Young



I. Intro

I don't know why Danny Granger decided to open his mouth. For some reason, he decided to blurt out that he thinks the Bulls would be easier to beat in a seven-game series than the Celtics. I have no idea either.

Because maybe the best shot this young Indiana team had coming in against Chicago was the surprise attack. Maybe the Pacers sneak up on the Bulls, steal Game 1 and then at least make things interesting. Now there's none of that. The Bulls heard you Danny, and they'll be ready.

I don't think this series will be all that glamorous. It's a 62-win team versus a 37-win one. That's a large, large difference. This is a great team versus an average one. It is the postseason and sometimes fun things happen, but this is kind of a what-you-see-is-what-you-get situation. It's hard to picture any scenario other than the inevitable unless Derrick Rose, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng get kidnapped by Larry Bird.

II. What Happened: A look at the season series

The Bulls took the season series 3-1, by an average margin of 11.5 points per game. Indiana's three losses through were under the Jim O'Brien regime. The one win was behind interim Frank Vogel, which came in overtime. Other than that Indiana win, the season series was entirely lopsided. Chicago won by 19, 13 and 21 with those three games never even really being as close as even that number indicates.

Here's the bad news for Indiana: In those four games, they shot just 38 percent from the floor. The Pacers struggled scoring the ball from everywhere. The paint was sealed, the 3-point line was covered and Indiana's go-to guys never got clean looks. In their win, it was all about a surprising big night from Tyler Hansbrough. Not encouaging.

III. The Easy Stuff: Derrick Rose is good

Do I really need to sit here and tell you that Derrick Rose is good, that he's the best and most important player in this series and that if he plays even close to what he's capable of, the Bulls will cruise? Yeah, I probably do.

Derrick Rose is good, he's the best and most important player in this series and if he plays even close to what he's capable of, the Bulls will cruise.

It's easy to label Rose something like an "X-factor" but that's almost disrespectful. He is The Factor. He changes everything. Indiana has absolutely no one qualified to guard him and can't match him in crunch time. If these games stay close, the Bulls have a clear go-to scorer. Indiana has some decent players, but nothing the caliber of Rose.

IV. Secret of the Series: Can Indiana score?

Under Vogel, the Pacers have tried to become more of an up-tempo, high volume shooting team. They want to get up around 90 attempts a game. Under O'Brien, they tried to grind it out defensively and while they had some early success, couldn't sustain. Now, they want to run you.

That's of course interesting because they're going up against the premier defensive team in the NBA. The Bulls rank first in basically every defensive category, most important of which is defensive efficiency where they allow just 100.3 points per 100 possessions. (That's awesome. )

The Pacers are technically a better defensive team than offensive one (rank 12th in defensive efficiency, 23rd in offensive), but that's not the point. They want to try to score more than 100. Under Vogel, they consistently topped the century mark. In games they did that, the Pacers won a lot more. In wins, Indiana averaged 107.8 points per game. In losses, 93.2. That's a major difference.

Indiana is looking to outscore the Bulls, which of course isn't the best strategy, but it's probably the only one. I mean, what else are you going to do, beat the Bulls at their own game?

V. The Dinosaur Narrative : “Chicago can't win now because they haven't won before”

I keep hearing people ask this question. The Rose led Bulls haven't ever won a playoff series; how can they win the whole thing? I kind of think that's a dumb question. Mainly because, Chicago will get their series win pretty easily over Indiana. So that'll be out of the way and the Bulls can get their hand stamped and move on.

But this inexperience card is one people love to play. Obviously the Pacers are far more untested in terms of playoff basketball, but the issue is whether or not these young Bulls will feel the pressure of being top dog coming in. I don't think so. Rose has already proven he elevates his game in the postseason, Tom Thibodeau has a championship ring and there are a number of quality veterans on the Bulls roster.

It's stressful having expectations on you, no doubt. The Bulls haven't gone deep into the postseason yet. But they're going to get part of it out of the way to start with and the Pacers are just going to be a small bump in the road.

VI. The Line-Item Veto: Who wins each match-up?

PG: Darren Collison has become a pretty solid point guard in the mold of Chris Paul. He creates, slashes and scores on his own. The Bulls have Derrick Rose. This isn't even close.

SG: The ugliest, least important matchup is definitely found in the 2-guard hold. Keith Bogans, a defensive specialist, versus Paul George, an athletic but extremely raw rookie. Not exactly marquee, this one.

SF: I think Danny Granger versus Luol Deng is one of the more underrated head-to-heads in the entire opening round. Obviously Indiana's success hinges largely on Granger and Deng is a terrific defender. Plus, Deng can score the ball. In the previous four meetings, Deng has gotten the best of Granger so I see no reason why not to go with him here.

PF: Tyler Hansbrough has been pretty good the last two months. He's high energy, high effort and has a decent little mid-range game. Clearly Carlos Boozer is better, but I think this matchup is a bit closer than it appears.

C: If the good Roy Hibbert shows up, he's a tough matchup for Joakim Noah. The good Hibbert can score, rebound, block shots and control a game from the post. But if it's the bad Hibbert, Noah will eat him alive. That's what Noah tends to do with people. He's a terrific post defender. But Hibbert has a lot of size on him and Indiana needs one edge in these matchups, so I'll give it to Hibbert.

Bench: Neither is overwhelmingly good, but I like Chicago's because of players like Kurt Thomas, Kyle Korver, Taj Gibson, Ronnie Brewer and Omer Asik. All make nightly impacts for Chicago. Indiana has some guys that can Heat up off the pine like Brandon Rush, Mike Dunleavy and James Posey, plus Josh McRoberts who has been a surprise, but the Bulls have depth in their depth.

Coach: Both are rookies, but one is more of a rookie than the other. Thibodeau will likely be this season's Coach of the Year and has transformed the Bulls into one of the elite defensive teams in the league. Vogel has done an admirable job with the Pacers, but not even his organization sees him as head coaching material moving forward. A clear edge for Chicago.

VII. Conclusion

The Pacers are a pretty good "We're just happy to be here!" team. With only 37 wins, they shouldn't even be in the final 16, but here they are. They know they're up against a favorite and know deep down the goal would be to win two games. This postseason would be an overwhelming success if they were able to pull that off.

But I have a hard time seeing it. Almost every matchup favors the Bulls as well as style of play. Indiana will play them hard and probably play them pretty close, but this has sweep written all over it. The Pacers won't do any sneaking up because of Granger's bulletin board material, so their best shot at stealing a game is gone. However, I'd like to think the Pacers will be excited enough to pull one off at home, just to treat the Indy fans. Prediction: Bulls in five.

VIII. CBSSports.com Video Preview

The Chicago Bulls will take on the Indiana Pacers in this Central Division playoff matchup. Will Derrick Rose help lead the Bulls to a championship? Ian Eagle and Ken Berger preview this playoff matchup. 

Posted on: March 28, 2011 11:30 pm
 

Celtics lose again, now tied with Miami for 2nd

Pacers out-execute Celtics down the stretch in key game for playoff positioning. No, you're not reading that wrong. 
Posted by Matt Moore

There can be no insinuation of a lack of effort here. This wasn't about boredom or age, or coasting. The Celtics genuinely gave a tough effort against the Pacers Monday night, but Indiana walked away with the win for one simple reason: execution. The Celtics played with energy but also played out of rhythm wildly, throwing away needless turnovers and missing key shots in a 107-100 loss to the Pacers. 

The result? The Celtics are now tied with the Miami Heat for the second overall seed in the East. They lost no ground to Chicago after the Bulls' loss to the Sixers, but Miami is now in surprisingly good position to close out the season and nab homecourt advantage in a possible 2-3 matchup. Oh, and the Lakers are now up on the Celtics by 2 games. Not that that's likely to come into play later. 

It was an up and down performance for the Celtics. In the opening minutes, they poured it on the Pacers, dropping 33 points in the opening frame. But the Pacers pushed back hard and wound up with a halftime lead after nearly getting doubled up in the second quarter. Then in the third, you know where this is going, right? The Celtics put on the effort, play great defense, land huge threes, and retake the lead. 

And then the fourth. Oh, goodness, the fourth. 

Most surprising in the 15-point quarter were the turnovers, created by and finished off of by Darren Collison. Collison was worked over for three quarters of this game, then all of a sudden Rajon Rondo got worked over by Collison. Collison flipped in-between screens, nailed pull-up Js, hit floaters, and generally dissected the Celtics. But the biggest factor in this game was what should concern the Celtics, and that was Roy Hibbert. Hibbert landed 26 points. This on a Celtics team that prides itself on the ability to shut down the opposing team's big men. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is not going to help the questions about how much this team misses Kendrick Perkins

The Celtics had their chances to win the game, but missed key shots from both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. Just typing that felt weird. 

Meanwhile, the Pacers got a big win as they continue to cling to the eighth spot in the East over the surging Bobcats by a game. The Pacers have little room for error, but you have to feel like this is the kind of momentum swing game that can help a team push to the finish line. They simply out-executed the reigning Eastern Conference champs. Everyone in the picture is playing for something. Monday night the Pacers and Celtics both played like it, but for once, it was the Celtics coming up short. The good news for Boston? 

It looks increasingly unlikely they'll be seeing the Pacers again this year. 
Posted on: February 10, 2011 11:55 am
 

Under Vogel, the Pacers are flying

Posted by Royce Young

A few weeks ago, there were a few stories out that the Pacers wanted to fire then-coach Jim O'Brien. The problem was that there wasn't a suitable replacement on the current bench. Nobody was worthy of even the interim tag.

But that Pacers pulled the trigger anyway and promoted Frank Vogel to head coach, where he's the youngest in the league at 37.

It didn't look like a great move for Indiana. The season was already slipping away after a promising start, players were regressing and now the most unproven coach you could have was taking over? Things were expected to go from bad to worse and in a hurry.

Except the Pacers won their first game under Vogel. Then their second. Then thier third, and fourth. They lost the fifth, a fantastic effort against the Miami Heat in Miami, but responsed Wednesday with a big win over Charlotte, which actually put them back in eighth in the East. Under Vogel, the new coach who supposedly couldn't coach, Indiana is 5-1.

Now before we get too excited and start touting him for awards, it's not like the Pacers are beating the league's best teams. The wins have come against Toronto, Cleveland, the wounded Blazers, New Jersey and Charlotte. Not a murderer's row, but that's the thing: Under O'Brien, the Pacers weren't beating teams they should. So far under Vogel, they are.

They're playing different too. Everything is looser. The charge from the front office when Vogel took over was to play faster and play younger. That's happening. Under O'Brien, the team was one of the worst offensive teams in the league, relying almost exclusively on good shooting. They averaged under 98.0 points per game and had nights where they seriously couldn't score.

With Vogel manning the wheel, Indiana is playing faster and averaging 107.0 points per game and have topped the century mark in all six games. This is against some stout defensive units too, like the Heat, Blazers and Bobcats.

A few more, via Indy Cornrows: offensive rating is 110.1 under Vogel, 104.0 under O'Brien; free throw attempts have increased by nearly 10 a game; and defensive has improved in a big way, going from 105.6 points per 100 possessions under O'Brien to 97.7 under Vogel. The Pacers have... improved.

You really don't have to look further than Roy Hibbert to see what's going on. He started out the season in a big way, averaging 15.6 and 9.4 rebounds in November. But under the apparent oppression of O'Brien, Hibbert fell off the face of the earth. He averged a little over 10 points a game in December and just 9.5 in January.

Since the change, Hibbert is averaging 18.6 ppg and 8.3 rpg. So tell me something isn't different now. I wonder if a player can win Most Improved just for the change made in a month.

Vogel put the change this way: "We're changing the identity of our basketball team dramatically. We are a power-post team, blood and guts, old school, smash-mouth team that plays with size, strength, speed, athleticism. We attack the basket."

Whatever it is, it's working. And working well. The Pacers are back in the playoff hunt in the East and behind Vogel, are playing way better. He may not be doing anything. He may just be giving a little pep talk and getting out of the way. But whatever it is, he deserves credit but the Pacers have opened up and are playing loose.

A change was needed in Indy and it's a good thing they decided to trust in their supposedly unfit assistant.
Posted on: January 31, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2011 11:47 pm
 

Pacers loosen up after O'Brien firing, beat Raps

Pacers win first game under Frank Vogel, show signs of legitimate life against terrible Raps team. 
Posted by Matt Moore

Sometimes, a change can do wonders.  In their first game after Jim O'Brien was fired, the Pacers looked wholly different than they have for the past two months. Much of that is attributable to playing the Raptors, who are truly terrible. But there were a series of positive signs that under Frank Vogel, things might improve for the Pacers. 

First and foremost was Roy Hibbert. Hibbert looked like an All-Star candidate early this season, then tailed off to the point that he as consulting a sports psychologist . Hibbert's regression had been a focal point of the scrutiny on O'Brien. For a night, at least, progress seemed to have been made. Hibbert went off for 24 points, 11 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks against the Raptors' puny interior defense. It wasn't just a good night against a bad team, though. Hibbert seemed to respond to Vogel's encouragement. The result was more and more focus from Hibbert, who looked to have new life. And he wasn't the only one. 

Tyler Hansbrough apparently unleashed a "rant" about O'Brien after the game, following his 14-point, 6-rebound performance in just 15 minutes. Rookie Paul George had 16 points, when his season average is only 7. More importantly, the team won. Even with Danny Granger having a tough night, and the opposition so bad (the Raptors have lost 12 straight), there was enough to feel good about this win for Pacers fans, just as a monster ice storm settled into the area, keeping attendance to just over 10,000 officially and far less unofficially.  The effort was there, a spark was there, and sometimes that's more important than precision, system, or cohesion, all of which are areas the Pacers still need help with.

Getting started on the right foot is important in a situation like that. Indiana's just two games out of the seventh seed in the East, and has the talent to get there. Maybe a move towards a younger coach is just what they needed. It's just one game and things could fall apart just as quickly, but at least for a night, the Pacers looked to have new life under the new coach.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com