Monday night was one of the few times I have been thoroughly impressed with the play of the Indiana Pacers’ bench. I have been proud and pleased with their play before, mind you, but never more impressed this season than I was against the Orlando Magic on Monday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Typically, it is the Indiana Pacers’ starters that carry the weight of the scoring, rebounding and defense. Led by all-stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert as well as near-all-star Lance Stephenson, the starters have played superb all season long.
Against the Magic, however, it was the second unit’s time to shine.
The play from the Pacers’ reserves was fantastic, as three players came off the bench to score in double figures. Danny Granger, a former starter, led the charge with 16 points on 5-9 shooting, including 3-5 from three-point range. Granger busted out of the gates with his scoring, something fans have been anxiously awaiting since his return a few weeks ago from injury.
Joining Granger in double-figure scoring off the bench were Luis Scola and C.J. Watson, with 10 and 12 points respectively. Granger, Scola and Watson all grabbed four rebounds apiece as well. Scola contributed four assists, while Granger and Watson each added three dimes to their stat lines.
Also performing nicely within the second unit was backup center Ian Mahinmi. The Frenchman scored seven points, reeled in five rebounds and rejected two shots on the defensive end.
All in all, the bench combined to score 49 points, matching the scoring output from the starting five. This coming after very poor performances in recent games by the Indiana reserves.
Lance Stephenson recorded a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Paul George also added 15 points.
Great to see the Indiana Pacers reserves come in with high energy that the starters did not exhibit in the first half. The second unit expanded Indiana’s lead of seven points in the first quarter to as many as 16 points in the second period. Orlando pulled back within nine by halftime.
After the break, the Magic inched to within four before the Pacers’ bench entered the game and pulled away for a comfortable 19-point victory, 98-79.