The Indiana Pacers dumped their sixth game in a row on Saturday night, this time to the Milwaukee Buck, 121-103.
If you see people around town gazing at the sky with a bewildered look tomorrow, they're likely Pacer fans. The levels of incredulity this team evokes continues to astound and amaze.
Unless you're watching these games closely throughout, you have no idea what a roller coaster of freakish emotion this team can take you on. Consider the first half, with Roy Hibbert starting for Rasho Nesterovic, the Pacers jump out to a quick lead. Then just as quickly, the turnovers start to mount, the team energy dissipates and the Bucks take the lead.
Charlie "FRICKIN" Villanueva comes off the bench to score 24 first half points, twice his season average for whole games. The Pacers go to the locker room at halftime down 18.
Oh, well at least they played them even the rest of the way, you say? Ahem, come here so I can punch you in the nose.
Yes, the final deficit was 18, but no, they didn't play them even the rest of the way. They actually outplayed the Bucks throughout the third quarter and 7 minutes and 20 seconds into the fourth. The Pacers actually rallied from a 21-point hole early in the third to take the lead in the fourth quarter. With 4:40 left, the Pacers were up 103-102.
Then the Bucks not only outplayed the Pacers but seemed to be the only team playing as they finished the game on a 19-0 run.
I just can't get into as much detail as I'd like to right now because it is too late and I'm too sour, so I'll leave you with a couple of positives to ponder.
First, T.J. Ford bounced back after the tough finish in Detroit to pump in 27 points on only 8-14 shooting. He also dished out 6 helpers and really pushed the Pacers in their second half comeback bid.
Secondly, Brandon Rush played his best game of the year. You notice he's the only player with a positive +/- (+6) and that's because he was in and contributed heavily to the third quarter comeback. Rush finished with 16 points, knocking down a couple of 3-ball and snagging a couple of steals. He held up well at the defensive end, too.
And when I say this was the best game Rush played it was because he simply played. He let his instincts loose and didn't hold back. The pair of turnaround one-handers were evidence enough that he felt real good on the floor and was prepared to make an impact. In hindsight, I wish he was left on the court to finish the game. He may have worn out but neither Marquis Daniels nor Danny Granger could slow down the late collapse so he wouldn't have done any worse.
The Pacers are stuck in a hole now which I almost welcome at this point. We'll see who is willing and able (I actually think they're all willing) to dig themselves out. Forget the playoffs, this team is in evaluation mode. Seeing who reacts how should make the next few games very interesting.