What a great way to stick it to David Stern.
When the Pacers' Dec. 26 clash with the Bulls was postponed due to a snowstorm, I had a look at both teams' schedules and figured there were plenty of slots for a replacement game that suited both teams. Instead, the NBA decides to shaft the Pacers and hand them the only back-to-back-to-back game of this season, while the Bulls don't even get a back-to-back. So fair, so fair.
After beating the Heat and Atlanta in the first two games by double-digits, the Pacers saved their best for last, crushing the shorthanded 76ers 88-69 for their third win in as many nights. Yes, the 76ers were missing Thaddeus Young and Jason Richardson, and yes the game was ugly and yes the Pacers looked gassed at times -- but they still pulled out the victory to give a massive one-fingered salute to the NBA.
Roy Hibbert had one of, if not the best game of his season by putting up 18 points, 14 rebounds and 5 blocks. He only shot 8-20 but the entire team shot just 39% as a unit. On the other hand, they kept the 76ers to 34.4% shooting, so there.
Paul George, George Hill and David West each had 15 points, and Orlando Johnson turned out to be the best reserve off the bench with a couple of huge step-back threes. Go figure. And Gerald Green got another DNO- Coach's decision.
During his post-game interview Roy Hibbert said he knows he could and should be playing better and added that he was going to lift weights in the 76ers gym immediately. Shows no matter how badly he may suck at times, he's still giving it all he's got. You can't fault the big fella for effort.
Guys like Paul George and George Hill also ripped into the scheduling and said coach Frank Vogel used the slight as motivation for the team -- and it appears to have worked.
The Pacers are now a solid 31-19 for the season and just 1.5 games behind the Knicks for the second seed in the East. They now get a well-earned single day of rest before facing the new-look Toronto Raptors back home. Rudy Gay will be tough and the Pacers are due for a letdown game after gutting through the last three nights, so we'll see how they respond.
After that it's a massive revenge game against the Nets (whom the Pacers choked against last month in the fourth quarter), followed by what should be a relatively easy one against the Bobcats, before a HUGE game against the Knicks. Good thing all of these games will be at Banker's Life Fieldhouse, where the Pacers have won 15 straight and counting.