No Pacers were invited to All-Star Weekend in LA, but that's a good thing for this team right now. Sure, Collison, George and/or Hansbrough probably could have gotten an invite for the Rookie Challenge, but this break gave the team a much needed rest, especially after it suffered its first two-game losing streak under Frank Vogel.
Well, they are back and they won their first game with ease against the struggling Washington Wizards, 113-96. After some sloppiness initially, the Pacers put their feet on the gas and streaked ahead with a bunch of fast break points.
Granger had 21 and 10, Hibbert had 16, 6 and 4 blocks, Hansbrough had 17 and 5, George had 11 and 9, and Collison had 11, 5 and 6 assists as every player on the roster scored.
With the entire NBA focused on the recent Carmelo to New York trade and now the Deron Williams to New Jersey trade, the Pacers are kind of sneaking under the radar a little bit (not that they were the focus of much attention before that). It's unlikely that the Pacers will made any significant moves before the trade deadline with monetary restrictions and Indiana being not exactly a popular destination for free agents, the team will just have to make do with that they have right now.
Tonight, they get a chance at redemption against the Detroit Pistons, the team they lost to just before the All-Star Break. I expect the Pacers to come out, play hard, and win easily. It'll be a test they'll need to pass if they want to seriously move up in the playoff ladder.
Looking ahead, the 25-30 Pacers have a great opportunity to step into the 7th spot (currently occupied by Philly) and potentially the 6th (New York) if Melo screws NY up (highly unlikely). Conversely, if they're not carefuly, they can also easily fall right out of the race again.
We'll just have to wait and see.
PS: Don't even get me started on Reggie not making the finalist list for the Hall of Fame.