Pacers 113, Hawks 91: Ahhh, That's Better

Remember all those shots that hammered the rims against Memphis on Wednesday night? Well, turns out the Pacers were just softening 'em up for tonight. The nets were snapping early and often, as Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy imposed their will on the game by scoring at will to push the Pacers to a desperately needed 113-91 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

Thanks to a video stream (hat tip: Pacers Digest) I was able to watch the game and listen to Mark Boyle and Slick. The thing I love about Mark and Slick is that they don't pull any punches with the home team. Slick calls the game like he's coaching the players, so if they screw up he let's 'em know about it. Boyle is always quick with the quip to subtly eviscerate any player not getting it done.

Against Charlotte last Monday, they were both exasperated with Danny Granger's play. He wasn't assertive, his defense was poor, and he couldn't get anything going on offense. Yet, if you looked at the box his numbers weren't horrible and even his +/- appeared okay. Thanks to Mark and Slick, we knew the whole story.

Well, tonight was a different story for Granger. From the get go, both Mark and Slick were praising Granger's effort. He was aggressive and hitting the glass. Soon enough, the shots started to fall. By the end of the half, Granger and Mike Dunleavy were taking turns putting up mini-offensive spurts and before long everyone was wondering where this type of effort had been over the past 10 days.

As painful as three of the five previous losses were, this win has to send the Pacers out West with some confidence. Winning two or three of the five straight road games would be huge. Hopefully, Mel Mel can join the fray and keep the offense flowing. A few other thoughts, while enjoying the W:

  • O'B must've emphasized the lack of effort on the glass because the Pacers attacked it tonight, outrebounding the Hawks, 49-35. Dunleavy and Granger combined for 21 rebounds. Against Memphis, Granger had one rebound and we all know there were plenty shots bouncing up for grabs in that game.
  • Both Dunleavy and Granger found their shooting stroke tonight which has been missing since Jamaal Tinsley hasn't been around to set them up. They combined to shoot 9 of 12 from 3-land and score 55 points, including a career-high equalling 32 for Granger. Mmmm, this is the type of game I love to see from Granger. Also the type of game that makes his less assertive, disappearing acts hard to take.
  • Jermaine O'Neal didn't do much, but he wasn't really needed. When Granger and Dunleavy bring so much to the party, the Pacers usually win going away and J.O. can focus on defense. 7 did finish with four blocked shots.
  • Kareem Rush and Marquis Daniels offered some nice supplemental buckets and defense which really helped the Pacers push the lead to 30 early in the fourth quarter.
  • David Harrison was available and played some minutes tonight. In fact, he came off the bench ahead of Ike Diogu in the rotation. Diogu has been struggling since his return from injury, so he could be buried if DH can stay healthy and productive.
  • Shawne Williams was called on early for a short rotation as O'B went 10 deep in the first half. Shawne picked up 3 fouls, limiting his time until the second half when the lead swelled. Shawne blew his chance for extended minutes by picking up his remaining three fouls by simply playing poor defense. Slick mentioned (before the second half foul binge) that Shawne just doesn't have the proper awareness on the defensive end. Shawne then went on to illustrate Slick's point by finding himself in poor position and reaching.
Enjoy the W, especially since it comes against a Hawks team that started the night two games ahead of the Pacers in the Eastern Conference standings. After the miserable play lately, it was really nice to see the team back up O'B's claims that they will continue to work through rough stretches and find ways to improve. Let's just hope they take that confident play on the road.
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