Great win today by the Indiana Pacers, their first of this new season. And for the first time in a very very long time, the Pacers are at 0.500!
Anyway, they beat the Charlotte Bobcats 104-101 in a tight one, the victory only secured when former Pacer Stephen Jackson missed a wide open three with a couple of seconds left on the clock.
Some observations from my end:
1. Danny Granger had 33 points (including 6 thee-pointers) in 38 minutes. He's off to a terrific start to the season. If he keeps this up he'll be an All-Star again.
2. After Roy Hibbert's monster first game, he was more subdued this time, but he still racked up impressive numbers across the board -- 13 points, 8 boards, 6 assists and 4 blocks (leading the team in the last 3 categories), together with 0 turnovers. If he keeps this up he could be joining Granger at All-Star Weekend, and be a contender for Most Improved Player.
3. Darren Collison struggled, playing just 24 minutes, with 7 points, 6 assists and 3 turnovers, and shooting just 2-10 from the floor. Interestingly, TJ Ford got another stack of playing time, taking up the other half of the game in Collison's place, and did his best with 7 points and 4 assists, including a couple of big ones down the stretch as the Pacers was in the midst of a furious fourth quarter comeback. What is O'Brien trying to do here, playing Ford (who is supposed to be the guy most likely to be traded in the NBA), and not AJ Price (who O'Brien said was the best player on the team earlier in the preseason)? Is he upping TJ's trade value so he can get rid of him? Or is TJ really going to remain a part of the team?
4. Another head scratcher was Tyler Hansbrough, who had 12 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals in 20 minutes. He was 6-6 from the foul line, including some clinching clutch FTs with the clock winding down. This was a player that O'Brien said this in a Q&A just before the start of the season:
Tyler has missed such a large body of work and he doesn't have Jeff's experience so Tyler is in a situation where he missed a year's training, he wasn't comfortable last year in the minutes he was getting, missed most of the five-on-five of this training camp and I just don't think he's far enough along offensively or defensively to be a rotation guy right now.
It's great to see Hansbrough get some run, especially since he played for the Tar Heels, but does that make sense to you?
5. Solomon Jones, another guy O'Brien tried to trade, played 10 minutes and racked up 4 fouls and zero rebounds. Jeff Foster just returned back back surgery, but surely even he can do better than that. All O'Brien is doing is reducing his trade value. Speaking of the Joneses, Dahntay remains on the inactive list.
6. Rebounding is indeed going to be a problem as the Pacers got dominated on the boards 45-34, including giving up 15 offensive rebounds. On the bright side, they really cut down on the turnovers, recording only 10. If they can keep the turnovers that low every night they'll be in a position to win every night.
Next up: the home opener against the Philadelphia 76ers, who are currently 0-2 after losing to Atlanta and Miami. Definitely a winnable game. For both sides.