I know, I know. A win is a win. That's what we've been saying all season as the Pacers continue to struggle.
But at least it has been exciting to watch for fans who like their games to go down to the wire.
Once again, the Pacers needed to go all out to top a supposedly lottery team missing a key piece. On the back of Roy Hibbert's first career triple-double (10 points, 11 rebounds and a career high 11 blocks) and a career scoring night from Paul George (37 points, including 33 and a Reggie Miller record-breaking 9 three-pointers after half time), the Pacers somehow managed to squeeze by a New Orleans Hornets team missing no. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis in OT, 115-107. With the victory, the Pacers earned their first winning streak of the season and improved with 6-7, including a 4-1 record at home.
For the majority of the night, it looked like another one of those games, where an inferior opponent would out-execute and out-hustle the Pacers to a win the Pacers should have in the bag. Every time the Pacers decided to rely on their talent to go on a run, the Hornets answered by getting to the offensive rebounds and loose balls. I lost count the number of times when I thought the game was effectively safe, but only to have the Pacers go complacent and allow the Hornets back in the game.
On the whole, it was a game that demonstrated that the Pacers still have a long way to go before getting anywhere close to becoming the type of team they were last season -- BUT they appear to be on the right track towards getting there, eventually.
It was a night where Frank Vogel had to rely on his starters again, as newcomers Gerald Green, Ian Mahinmi and DJ Augustin still haven't figured out how make an impact. When Tyler Hansbrough is your best bench guy (11 points, 9-10 from the line including the 4 icing free throws), you know your team is in trouble.
The biggest positives to take away from the game are:
- what appears to be an increasingly confident Roy Hibbert. After putting up a season high 20 and 12 the game before, he still struggled with his shot but helped out in other areas of his game tonight with the impressive triple-double -- that's a very encouraging sign and one can only hope his confidence won't be shattered again in the next two games against the Spurs and the Lakers;
- Paul George going nuts. Seriously, he hit everything in that second half. Obviously, it's likely to be a once-off kind of thing, but if it can spur him on to more consistent performances that would be just the thing the Pacers need;
- George Hill and David West playing solid for 16 points apiece. I still think less Hill and more West is preferable for the Pacers' offense though;
- Lance Stephenson continuing to be a valuable piece, to everyone's surprise. 12, 5 and 5 on 5-9 shooting, and some of the best exaggerated mid-game celebrations of all time, including some red-cheek inducing ass slaps;
- a season high 115 points (though it took OT to get there) shows the offense is improving. Still a lot of room for improvement but a lot less unwatchable than it has been; and
- only 8 turnovers (which must also be a season low), and 26 assists on 40 field goals. Damn, I am getting unnecessarily excited.
Pacers fans can rejoice for now after an exciting win with big games from two of its stars. But I will be really surprised if the Pacers can pull out wins in their next two games. One can always hope, I suppose.