Indiana Pacers @ Houston Rockets: feat. Jared Wade of 8 Points, 9 Seconds

Teams: Indiana Pacers @ Houston Rockets
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Toyota Center, Houston TX
Television: ESPN

Notes: In the first meeting between Houston and Indiana on December 20th in Indianapolis, the Pacers hammered the Rockets, 114-81.  The Rockets were missing both Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik.

Dwight Howard was the only Rocket to produce at anything near his per-game averages: 19 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks in 31 minutes.

Despite David West only scoring 12 points in that match-up, Terrence Jones somehow managed to have -30 point differential in only 25 minutes played.  Chandler Parsons (-23 in 33 mins) was the only other Rocket over under -20.

The last time the Pacers beat a winning team was exactly a month ago, an overtime win against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Insider’s View – Q&A with Jared Wade of 8 Points, 9 SecondsFollow Jared on Twitter @8pts9secs and also @Jared_Wade.

MF – The Pacers are 12-4 going back to February 1st, but have only one win against a team with a winning record during that span and just three total since New Year.  The media hot points for Indiana’s recent struggles have been Paul George’s regression to mean in his mid-range game after a torrid start and Roy Hibbert’s overall shooting percentage.  Is the difference really that simple or are there other issues currently facing the Pacers?

JW – Those are certainly the two banner issues. There also seems to just be a genuine lethargy that has infected the team. Whether that is just the normal drag of an 82-game season weighing on them or something more insidious is tough to say. Fans of the team are certainly hoping it’s the latter, but there are signs it could be the worse scenario. At times, it looks as if these guys read too many of their early-season news clippings and now think they can walk their way to the Eastern Conference Finals and even beat Miami if they earn home court. If that is the case, then this recent slide may ultimately be beneficial as a wake-up call.

The Rockets and Pacers face a similar challenge this offseason, as they both have to figure out what to do with their prized former-second round draft picks, Chandler Parsons and Lance Stephenson.  Is there any scenario where Stephenson doesn’t stay in Indiana and did that perhaps play into the Evan Turner trade?

Oh for sure. Off hand, I don’t know the exact (projected) amount of room Indiana will have below the luxury tax threshold, but it is going to be very, very, very tight. If Lance will return for $10 million a year, they may well be able to clear enough room to sign him to a four-year/$40 million deal. But if another team throws something like $12 million per season at him? He’s probably gone, unless he wants to offer the Pacers a discount. By all accounts, Indiana won’t go above the tax line, so it will all come down to what other GMs offer — and we all know that there’s usually one guy who will spend recklessly.

Sticking with Turner, how has he changed the dynamic of the Pacers so far?  And what do you expect his and Andrew Bynum’s impact to be down the stretch

He has had two really nice scoring game (vs. Boston and Charlotte) that have showed just how dynamic he can be off the bench. In recent years, the team hasn’t had many players who can just take the ball and create something out of nothing. He isn’t exactly prime-Dwayne Wade, but against second units, he looks to be a guy who they will be able to rely on to have a few big-scoring nights in the playoffs. As for Bynum, I have no idea. Ian Mahinmi has been playing better of late, so it’s still altogether possible Bynum never sees the court. I’m not expecting anything until we start to see minutes, let alone production.

Most Rockets fans adored Luis Scola about as much as a fanbase can love a goofy, below-the-rim offensive specialist.  How, if at all, has he been an improvement over Tyler Hansbrough as far as getting to the ECF and (presumably) past the Heat?

He looked great early in the year when everything was coming up Milhouse for Indiana. The improvement he gave the Pacers over Hansbrough couldn’t be calculated by common mathematics. Lately, however, he hasn’t been able to make a shot: 38% in January and 37% in February. He has been a bit better since the All-Star break, though, so Indiana is hoping this slump may be ending and he can go back to being a productive player off the bench who will only further highlight the big-man advantage the team has over Miami.

True or False:  The Pacers would be the favorites in a 7-game series against the Heat with home court advantage.

False. LeBron James, as of this writing, remains alive.

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Total comments: 16
  • txtdo1411 says 6 months ago

    Last night he was on fire. The question is whether he'll be able to sustain that kind of intensity long term - there are a lot of good players in this league that can occasionally have nights where they heat up, but he's got to be able to do it consistently to be considered a level above.

    One thing that was clear was that he feeds off the emotion of the crowd - need to see some excited fans in Toyota Center for the rest of the year!

    ST

    Very true. I might be a little amped up still about that game. One of the most fun games I've seen in years. It just seems with his recent play, he was on the cusp of really figuring out how to be a superstar, but also be a team player on defense and offense. This game it just all came together. The fact that it came against the Pacers, a team he has historically played poorly against, is just the icing on the cake. I really hope he continues to bring that level of intensity.

  • Sir Thursday says 6 months ago

    Did we just witness Harden take a step in his career? He was patient in the first half trying to get others involved, played some pretty stellar defense, and just went crazy in the 3rd. I haven't seen Harden put that much effort and get that pumped up in a game before tonight. Yelling "no easy (expletive) points" in the huddle when we were already up by 20. It just seemed like something clicked, and as a team we clicked both offensively and defensively. I have always liked Harden undoubtedly, but last night I saw a player I haven't seen before... and it was just beautiful. If we continue to grow as a team, and focus on our team defense, we are going to be very very scary come playoffs.

    Last night he was on fire. The question is whether he'll be able to sustain that kind of intensity long term - there are a lot of good players in this league that can occasionally have nights where they heat up, but he's got to be able to do it consistently to be considered a level above.

    One thing that was clear was that he feeds off the emotion of the crowd - need to see some excited fans in Toyota Center for the rest of the year!

    ST

  • txtdo1411 says 6 months ago

    Did we just witness Harden take a step in his career? He was patient in the first half trying to get others involved, played some pretty stellar defense, and just went crazy in the 3rd. I haven't seen Harden put that much effort and get that pumped up in a game before tonight. Yelling "no easy (expletive) points" in the huddle when we were already up by 20. It just seemed like something clicked, and as a team we clicked both offensively and defensively. I have always liked Harden undoubtedly, but last night I saw a player I haven't seen before... and it was just beautiful. If we continue to grow as a team, and focus on our team defense, we are going to be very very scary come playoffs.

  • Steven says 6 months ago

    Didn't Canaan and Daniels play a total of 10 minutes and score a total of 10 points?

    12 minutes and 10 points. And the starters were going crazy. The whole second half seemed to be a party, once Harden started taking the game over.
  • Bigtkirk says 6 months ago

    The balance that the Rockets have shown over the past several games is impressive. When they have balanced productivity, the bench contributes and the TO's go down, the Rockets are difficult to handle. Nice to see Lin and D-Mo have good games after struggling recently.

  • Willk says 6 months ago

    The stars of the night was obliviously Canaan and Daniels. They averaged .83 points per minute played.

    That third period might be the best quarter they have played this season. It was 50-47 then next thing I know 81-53.

    9 different players hit a 3 tonight. 9! On to the next game.

    Didn't Canaan and Daniels play a total of10 minutes and score a total of10 points?

  • Dayak says 6 months ago This team is growing up. We are getting better and better.
  • Steven says 6 months ago The stars of the night was obliviously Canaan and Daniels. They averaged .83 points per minute played.

    That third period might be the best quarter they have played this season. It was 50-47 then next thing I know 81-53.

    9 different players hit a 3 tonight. 9! On to the next game.
  • Buckko says 6 months ago

    This is just the beginning.

  • miketheodio says 6 months ago

    i feel like a little kid jumping around after a clutch elie 3. just a regular season game but i was excite.

  • Red94 says 6 months ago New post: Houston Rockets 112, Indiana Pacers 86: Wow.
    By: Paul McGuire

    Wow.

    Just…wow.

    I don’t believe what I witnessed.  Sure, the Indiana Pacers had lost two straight games before tonight, and had been blown out by the Charlotte Bobcats.  But that was all the more reason that tonight’s game would be a tough, bitter contest, where James Harden, Dwight Howard, and the rest of the Rockets would have to fight to earn every point from Paul George, Roy Hibbert, and the rest of the Pacers, right?

    Well, to a degree, the Rockets did have to fight a bit on offense.  They only scored 50 points in the first half, as opposed to seemingly breaking 60 every other game. But they didn’t need an amazing offense to hold Indiana at bay, as the defense did the work – and then when the offense exploded in the third quarter, spearheaded by James Harden’s tomahawk slams and 3’s, the result was a beautiful symphony of total basketball dominance, as Houston earned its best win yet of a great season.

    And yes, I said the defense did the work.  Houston has been maligned, and justly so, for its defense for much of the season.  The Rockets have been a lackadaisical defensive team at times, far too dependent on Dwight Howard to cover up the mistakes of the perimeter players, which does little good when said perimeter players choose to just go for the wide open jump shot.  But tonight?  No, the Rockets weren’t going to have any of it.  When the Pacers tried to go for the pass, the Rockets were there with the steal.  When they went to the post, they drew charges.  And when they went inside, there was Dwight Howard.  David West was really the only Pacers who could do any scoring as he overpowered Terrence Jones a few times, and 15 points is a far cry from someone who is on my list alongside Jason Terry as “Guys who play like a cross between Hakeem and Jordan when they’re up against the Rockets.”  One play in particular summed up the game – after a Houston free throw in the second quarter, the Pacers grabbed the board and threw a long pass for the cherry pick to Lance Stephenson.  In December, that would have been an easy Indiana layup. Instead, Harden swooped in, snatched the ball out of the air with one hand, and drilled a three pointer a few seconds later.

    Oh, and Harden?  One thing that you frequently hear about Harden is the refrain of “He may draw fouls now, but in the playoffs, against the good perimeter defenders and when the referees hold the whistle, he won’t be able to score.”  Ignoring the fact that the idea that referees don’t blow the whistle in the playoffs is a myth – LeBron, Durant and Chris Paul all draw MORE foul shots in the playoffs for example – Harden has shown over the last few games that he can score on just about anyone.  Andre Iguodala gave Harden fits all of last season.  Harden dropped 39 in the last game against Golden State.  Indiana shut Harden down in the past, as he had averaged only 17 points per game against the Pacers as a Rocket.  But tonight, Harden dropped 28 points, dropped 16 in the third quarter, and was just everywhere both on offense and defense.  His normally stoic personality dropped for a bit at the end, and we saw someone excited and proud about this great win.

    I could go on, and on, and on – from the bench stepping up to Howard beating Hibbert to Jeremy Lin finally playing well to the great 3 point shooting.  But I won’t.  There’s too much to celebrate this win.  The Rockets are 2-0 in this stretch of death.  There are four games left.  And while Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Clippers have been real challenges for the Rockets this season, this team knows that right now, it can beat any team in the league.  This beatdown suffices as proof enough.

  • Steven says 6 months ago Rockets defense is blowing them out.
  • Dayak says 6 months ago Asik is back. We win.
  • Steven says 6 months ago

    Do you think we will see the twin tower lineup in short stretches tonight? Especially if Jones struggles with the bruiser in David West.

    Maybe. But I see the Rockets blowing out the Pacers. Paul George is in a slump worse then the Rockets backup PG
  • Buckko says 6 months ago Yes.
  • txtdo1411 says 6 months ago

    Do you think we will see the twin tower lineup in short stretches tonight? Especially if Jones struggles with the bruiser in David West.