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Midseason Report Cards
Indiana
Pacers
A
Stats Through Jan. 20
W-L 33-7
PCT .825
DIV 6-2
CONF 22-5
HOME 21-1
ROAD 12-6
Frontcourt
A
Paul George might merit the Most Improved Award for an unprecedented second straight year, except he'll get more love on MVP ballots. Roy Hibbert isn't just a 7-foot-2 rim-protector, he's a state of mind. David West still imposing.
Backcourt
B+
Lance Stephenson might get the MIA handoff from George. George Hill hears more from critics than fans, but his combo-guard tendency enables others to shine.
Defense
A+
The Pacers manage to shut down the restricted area (thanks, Roy) and the 3-point line. Combine that, and the gap between their defensive performance and the league average is one of the widest in modern NBA history.
Bench
A-
Danny Granger has been a steady contributor at both ends since his return, upgrading an already improved reserve unit built around Luis Scola, C.J. Watson, Ian Mahinmi and Chris Copeland.
Coaching
A
Vogel, as usual, has the Pacers playing with an edge and driven by a clear goal (home-court advantage) while tweaking the offense and getting steady effort defensively. A COY candidate.
Summary

That misstep in Phoenix aside in game No. 41, Indiana is right where it wanted to be at the midpoint -- best record in the NBA -- with more progress evident than wear 'n' tear in getting there. The locker room is as tight as exists in this league, all lined up beneath Larry Bird, Donnie Walsh and Kevin Pritchard in the front office, Vogel and his staff on the sideline and a bunch of adults running the roster.

George has embraced the spotlight that has found him, though his "Hi, My Name Is..." days are over (and Indiana wants less of that and more locking-in from them all now). Stephenson, if he can play right up to his explosive, emotional line without crossing it, is a wild card most teams don't have. Hibbert has educated the refs in his defensive game, a huge edge at the rim. There's little not to like here.

-- Steve Aschburner

2013-14 Team Rating
Offense Defense
103.0 92.8
16thth Overall 1stth Overall