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Tuesday Night NBA Grades: Overlook the Pacers at your own peril

Nov 6, 2013, 2:18 AM EDT

Indiana Pacers v Detroit Pistons Getty Images

Our grades from Tuesday night around the NBA, or what you missed while debating the Top 10 superhero movies

source:  Indiana Pacers. They have been the best team in the NBA through the first week plus — they are undefeated at 4-0 thanks to a lock-down defense and Paul George. That defense is the best in the NBA this young season and they neutralized the big Pistons big front line, turning the Pistons into jump shooters — and Detroit is terrible at that. The Pistons shot just 37.9 percent on the night. Indiana also has the still improving Paul George — 31 points on 12-of-18 shooting against Detroit. This team went seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals and returned noticeably better.

source:  LeBron James, Miami Heat. Just another LeBron James night — 35 points on 13-of-20 shooting, eight rebounds, eight assists, and just one turnover leading a Heat team that has been up and down this young season to a quality win in Toronto without Chris Bosh. LeBron had 10 points in the first quarter and helped keep Miami in it for the part or the game Toronto played well (that changed).

source:  New Orleans Pelicans. After an impressive 6-1 preseason we had high hopes, but the Pelicans are now 1-3 this season after a sloppy loss to the Suns. While New Orleans hasn’t looked good on either end it is their defense that is concerning — they didn’t get out to shooters against Phoenix and paid a price. The offense just is not good enough to overcome that. It’s a process in New Orleans, but one off to a slow start.

source:  Charlotte Bobcats. This team is not all bad, even without Al Jefferson. Charlotte is now 2-2 on the season and Tuesday night went into Madison Square Garden, took an early lead and never surrendered it to the slumping Knicks. Kemba Walker was creating shots on his way to 25 points and six assists, Gerald Henderson added 18 and Michael Kidd-Grilchrist did a good job defensively on Carmelo Anthony with the game on the line.

source:  Rudy Gay, Toronto Raptors. It’s no fair that he was matched up on LeBron most of the night, but Gay was completely dominated — LeBron scored in the post and on the perimeter and did whatever he wanted. I’d say he forced Gay into bad shot choices but Gay does that anyway. The real reason for the bad grade is this is just another night in the slow start this season for the guy supposed to lead Toronto — Gay is shooting 32.3 percent overall and 30.8 percent from three, with a PER of 10.6. Ugh.

source:  James Harden/Dwight Howard, Houston Rockets. Credit these two for bouncing back. Both played poorly in Los Angeles the night before then made a difficult back-to-back trip up to Portland, and both showed up ready to play. Howard had 22 points on 13 shots, plus 13 rebounds. Harden had 33 points on 18 shots. Both played much better defense and Houston got the win (116-101).

  1. antistratfordian - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:35 AM

    “… they are undefeated at 4-0 thanks to a lock-down defense and Paul George.”

    Stop it. They are 4-0 thanks to facing Orlando, New Orleans, Cleveland and Detroit. It’s still okay to overlook the Pacers.

    • cruzan80 - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:58 AM


  2. jgray30 - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:12 AM

    PLEASE MIKE DANTONI, don’t make us have to go through 1 more game of a backcourt of Nash and Blake. THEY FREAKING SUCK! can’t score on or defend NOBODY.

  3. saint1997 - Nov 6, 2013 at 4:39 AM

    And this is why since he was drafted Paul George has been my favourite player. This is why I watch the NBA – to invest emotionally in a player and see it pay out through great development is just enjoyable as a fan

  4. davidly - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:24 AM

    I gotta love your giving so much love to Indiana, Kurt.

    It brings to mind that there are two kinds of fans: full-on, the glass is totally full, types, and “yeah, but…” worriers who cannot help see but the glass has air in it, too.

    I love Hibbert, and his 7 blocks are what he brings to the table. And I love big-D more that anything in hoops. But having been a fan of teams like the Pacers and Boilermakers over the years, it can be frustrating to watch your team “grinding it out” on both ends of the floor, even looking like a bunch of 6 footers trying to put back offensive tips.

    All that said, the 2-4 conf. finals loss to the Heat in ’12 and last year’s 3-4 exit, I think back to the Bulls-Pistons of 88-89 and 89-90 and imagine that the Heat might be the Pacer’s Pistons and that for Indiana this might be 90-91. The only problem is that Miami has LeBron James.

    I love the Pacer’s D. But they need to improve just a tiny bit on offense.

  5. unxpexted1 - Nov 6, 2013 at 8:45 AM

    This kid has such a high ceiling. Love his game. Interested to see what he’ll be like in 2-3 years.

  6. belleby123 - Nov 6, 2013 at 9:05 AM

    D. Rose will really have to play like he has his head screwed on straight this time if the Bulls are going to beat them.

    • antistratfordian - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:51 PM

      Not necessarily. The Pacers have been struggling against these weak teams until about midway thru the 4th quarter. The Bulls – even without Rose – aren’t likely to fade as easily as the Orlando Magic, etc.

      • bougin89 - Nov 6, 2013 at 5:34 PM

        Haha. Your “objectivity” is hilarious at this point. When their starters have been playing they have been outplaying their opponents by a lot(meaning they have been scoring more points than the teams they play). It’s not the Pacers fault George has been amazing and Hibbert is playing exceptional on defense. This isn’t college football, they didn’t pick their schedule.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 6, 2013 at 6:12 PM

        Hey, if they are so amazing and exceptional then they’ll keep winning against playoff teams instead of against gutter clubs. We’ll see.

      • bougin89 - Nov 7, 2013 at 9:36 AM

        Yep, and you’ll continue to troll the Heat’s biggest challengers.

      • belleby123 - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:18 PM

        Well, the Bulls lost, but it wasn’t really Rose’s fault. The Pacers superior shooting coupled with clear path and flagrant fouls that nobody in their right mind would say were legitimate did them in.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 7, 2013 at 3:50 PM

        Chicago is struggling far more than anyone – even a Bulls pessimist like me – could’ve imagined. But the season has just started and these games won’t mean anything by the time the playoffs start.

      • belleby123 - Nov 8, 2013 at 7:46 AM

        You can’t make a lot of conclusions after 5% of the games being played. The Heat started off slow, and they’re playing well now. Rose is the most dominant player the Bulls have and he and his teammates haven’t played together in over a year. And they have the best coach in the league, so I’m not worried in the slightest.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 8, 2013 at 5:20 PM

        I understand all of that. I don’t think Thibs is anywhere close to being the best coach in the league – I think he is best suited to being someone’s defensive coordinator. BUT to each his own. I can see why someone might think that, at least.

      • belleby123 - Nov 9, 2013 at 7:37 AM

        Yeah, well you’re stupid. A lot of people can’t distinguish between the quality of the players and the quality of the coach. You know, like Spoelstra. Thibs had the best record in the NBA his first two years in the league with mediocre offensive players (other than Rose). No other coach in history has done this.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 9, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        You’re not appreciating the insignificance of just having the “best record” when it comes to a coaching legacy. Thibs will ultimately be judged by what his teams do in the playoffs.

        He is a superb defensive coach and that has won him a lot of regular season games – but until he finds the ying to that defensive yang he is always going to struggle offensively and in the playoffs – and because of that we cannot bestow on him the title of “the best coach in the league.” This is just common sense.

        And Erik Spoelstra is a fantastic coach – a more well rounded one than Thibodeau. He’s getting some Phil Jackson/Pat Riley criticism right now (“he only wins because of his stars!”) but that’s just part of the process for any successful coach of teams with this kind of talent. Red Auerbach was not immune either.

      • belleby123 - Nov 10, 2013 at 8:44 AM

        You are getting progressively more lame. Is Phil Jackson the best coach in NBA history? Hell no. Who came up with the triangle offense? One of his assistants on the Bulls. Phil, in fact, is the perfect example because without the likes of MJ and Kobe in their primes, he wouldn’t have bupkus. In fact, here is the problem with the small mindedness of sports fans: the front offices deserve as much credit for Phil Jackson’s success as Phil. It’s exactly the same thing in Miami: everybody with a brain knows Pat Riley orchestrated every goddamn thing that happens there, so you should really stuff a sock in your mouth if you think Spoelstra deserves a whole lot of credit. I laugh every single time they show him in a huddle with the team and half the team is looking in the other direction. Every time. Hey, you like the Heat, fine. Spoelstra is mediocre and Battier is mediocre. Wade, when he actually decides to play is a superstar and LeBron is probably the best overall player ever. So be a fanboy or give credit where credit is due–they’re entirely different things.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 11, 2013 at 6:53 PM

        “Is Phil Jackson the best coach in NBA history? Hell no.”


        I agree with Pat Riley and Stan Van Gundy – Spo is probably going to end up in the Hall of Fame.

        We’ll see if Thibs ever ends up there… gotta win some chips first.

      • belleby123 - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:03 PM

        Spo might end up in the HoF. It’s called riding the coattails. I’m not saying he’s a bad coach. He stepped up their defense well after watching Thibs coach enough times–just like the Pacers. And he does a nice job rotating his players. Can’t say much beyond that.

      • antistratfordian - Nov 11, 2013 at 7:48 PM


      • belleby123 - Nov 12, 2013 at 8:13 AM


  7. sprest83 - Nov 6, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    You would think the Mavs slaughter of the Lakers would have made the list.

  8. pistolpete0903 - Nov 6, 2013 at 1:16 PM

    The Pacers schedule has been pretty much a cup cake.
    Having said that, the Pacers don’t mind being beneath the radar.

  9. bougin89 - Nov 6, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Very small sample size for the season, obviously, but do the Pacers have the two best defensive players in the league?

  10. jamnastyjay - Nov 6, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    Pacers are the most complete team in the league… While Miami is chasing the pipe dream of a 3rd title with role players like Oden, Beasely, & Rashard Lewis… The pacers got better with CJ, Scola, and Copeland… Too bad the careers of D-Wade and Ray Allen are fading faster than Lebron’s hairline!

    • belleby123 - Nov 7, 2013 at 2:28 PM

      The Pacers look tremendous after 5 games. I’m interested to see how they look after 50 games.

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