I was hoping that the Pacers could get their first 3-game winning streak of the season against the Joakim Noah-less Chicago Bulls, especially since the Bulls had been struggling on the road.
But nope. The Bulls are still a lot better. Pacers couldn't hit anything. Lose. 99-86.
Pacers are now 16-21 as they head on the road to face a red hot LA Clippers team.
Amazingly, even though the Pacers are on track to finish only slightly better than they did last season (32-50), they might actually make the playoffs. But is that a good thing here? The first three seeds are likely going to be either Miami, Boston, Chicago or Orlando -- teams I doubt the Pacers can take more than one game from in a seven game series -- if they're lucky.
Wonderful victory. Just minutes ago, the final buzzer sounded on the Indiana Pacers' 102-89 victory over the Nowitzki and Butler-less Dallas Mavericks.
A very good effort, much better than their win over the 76ers just the day before. Even without those Butler and Nowitzki, the Mavs are still a dangerous team, and the Pacers have been walking on thin ice lately with some of their performances, and it was unclear which team would show up on the night.
Fortunately, the guys buckled down and led most of the second half en route to a well-earned win, moving the team up to 16-20 and getting them their first winning streak since they beat LA and Sacramento back to back in late November.
With players backing up from the night before, Jim O'Brien gave minutes to rookie Paul George, and it paid off. George scored a career high 16 points in 19 minutes, including four 3 pointers. Granger and Collison each had 17 while Brandon Rush led all scorers with 20. O'Brien played 11 players tonight, and each and every one of them had a role, with only Solomon Jones scoreless for the game.
I hope I don't jinx them, but the Pacers look like they might be getting on track here after a tough December. I doubt they'll get back to their giant slaying ways earlier in the season, but if they can keep this level up they'll be in a good spot.
Next up, another home game on Friday night, this time against the Joakim Noah-less Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose will be a handful, but this is one the Pacers can win as long as they continue to hit their shots. Earlier in the season they went to Chicago and let the Bulls get out to a massive lead early. They can't let that happen again if they want to win.
The Indiana Pacers finally found their long lost shooting stroke and defeated the Philadelphia 76ers, 111-103, snapping a 9 game road losing streak and 3 game losing streak overall to improve to 15-20 for the season. As a team they shot 51.1%, including 50% from downtown. They led by as much as 16 in the third quarter but choked away the lead as the 76ers came storming back and actually taking the lead into the fourth. Fortunately, the Pacers nailed a few big shots and free throws in the last minute or two to escape with a tough win.
Danny Granger led all scorers with 27 points on 10-17 shooting, but most impressive for me was Darren Collison, who racked up 21 points, 13 assists and 3 steals. This was the Collison I wanted to see -- aggressive, freeing himself for open shots in the lane, running the pick and roll, and finding open teammates. He had been handcuffed somewhat in O'Brien's system, but hopefully this is a sign of more things to come. Of course, the fact that he played 37 minutes might have had something to do with it. TJ Ford has been solid, but Collison really should be playing 35 minutes a night.
Hansbrough was good again in another start, putting up 12 points and 9 rebounds, but Paul George only got 4 minutes. I want to see more of him.
Hibbert struggled for 8 points and 8 rebounds in 24 minutes, but he hit a big shot down the stretch that put a little breathing room between the Pacers and the 76ers.
This was a game the Pacers had to win. They were losing confidence fast and sliding out of playoff contention. As of now, they remain in 7th place (though way behind 6th place New York), but a couple of losses here and there and they could fall to 10th place.
Things don't get easier from here. Two HUGE home games against Dallas and Chicago, the first coming immediately. The Pacers need to at least get one of those. Dallas is potentially vulnerable because Nowitzki might be out with a knee injury and Caron Butler is out for the season, but they are still a very dangerous and well coached team (by former Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle, I might add). Pacers will have to step up their game at both ends to have a chance. And then the Bulls, a team that embarrassed the Pacers in Chicago a few weeks ago -- they'll be without Noah but who can contain Derrick Rose?
Come on Pacers! The team has not even won more than two games in a row ALL SEASON. Time for a winning streak!
This season is starting to look like every other season under Jim O'Brien for the Indiana Pacers. The defense is better this year but the offense is nowhere to be found.
The Pacers had a 15 point lead late in the third quarter against the San Antonio Spurs yesterday and threw away the game down the stretch, losing 90-87 despite a 23 point, 12 rebound performance from Tyler Hansbrough in his first start of the season.
Today, they flew to Atlanta and faced the Hawks who had already handled them easily twice this season. Game three was no different. The Hawks broke open the game in the third and routed the Pacers 108-93.
For the now 14-20 Pacers, things are starting to look horrible after a promising start to the season. Nothing is clicking now, especially on the offensive end. The Pacers are 28th in the league in FG%. Granger has struggled with his shot and Hibbert as well. These two guys are where all the problems start, but guys like Rush and Collison are also not getting the job done.
I like the fact that Hansbrough is finally playing and starting -- he should help with his energy; and I also want to see more of rookie Paul George.
Next up is the Philadelphia 76ers, and I see this as a must win for the Pacers to get themselves back on track, though with the way they have been playing lately it might not be an easy game. After that they've got Dallas and Chicago at home, before a four-game West coast road trip. If they keep losing it could get ugly.
They need to find that rhythm and confidence they had at the start of the season, and they need to do it fast.
Not much to say. Close game all night. Amare Stoudemire takes over the down stretch. Knicks win 98-92. Pacers are now 14-18 and have lost their 9th straight on the road. Percentage wise, they are on track for a 36-46 finish. Will Danny Granger be able to step up and be the big time player and leader we want him to be? Or will the Pacers continue to splutter?
And if you thought December was rough, January might be even tougher.
Pacers next play San Antonio at home (the team that beat them in the opener) and then face Atlanta on the road. And before the month is over they will play Dallas, Chicago (twice), Orlando, Denver and Portland.