Tell me if you've heard this one before?
The Indiana Pacers play a great game, lead at the half, lead in the fourth quarter, but come up short when the opponent scores the deciding bucket late in the game. Good. I won't bore you with the details again. Suffice it to say the Pacers lost to the New Orleans Hornets, 105-103.
Of course, I could cut and paste a few paragraphs from the past several games and they'd apply, but honestly I'm not in the mood. Instead, just know that a David West, off-balance, tightly-contested jumper released about .2 seconds before the shot clock buzzer sounded put the Hornets up by the final margin.
With 2.7 seconds left, the Pacers were out of timeouts and forced to live with a Jarrett Jack desperation runner from just past half court. The nightmare continues.
After the game, Bruno informed me that the Pacers had just lost their fourth straight game in which they shot 50% or better. That's painful. Especially since the Pacers played one of their best all-around games of the year considering the defensive effort to compliment the shooting numbers.
There was a palpable sense of frustration in the locker room. Several players were ready and out of there quickly while shaking their heads. The good thing about all of the frustration floating around was that there didn't appear to be any resignation. Granger entered the room after treatment and asked for a clarification of the practice time for tomorrow. One o'clock was the answer. Gotta keep working.
On to the individual notes:
- Danny Granger was his All-Star caliber self once again, dropping 34 on the Hornets including 4 of 4 from 3-land. Danny mentioned after the game that he is happy to be playing well but he's so desperate for the team to win that he doesn't even think about the level of play he's producing.
- Chris Paul was incredible in the fourth quarter. INCREDIBLE. Bruno mentioned that a fan was heckling him at the scorer's table before he went in to finish the game. At that point there was a little over six minutes left, the Pacers were up by two and Paul had eight points. He took the ribbing from the fan and then went out and score 11 more points. After the game he ran over and told the fan that he fired him up to finish it. Nice work fan. Even better work by CP3 to jump into the MJ zone and grasp onto any little slight, even from a heckler, to fuel a nasty and hostile takeover of the game.
- Oh, about the lack of a timeout with 2.7 seconds left. Yeah, see with less than five minutes left in the game. Jarrett Jack drove to the hoop right in front of me. He was bumped as he took off to shoot and then was mauled by Tyson Chandler, following through on a block. Foul? Don't be silly, of course not. In fact the ball went the other way and James Posey drew a foul after scoring a bucket. Meanwhile, Jack was in a heap, grasping his knee after the fouless collision. This cause the Pacers to use a timeout which they then didn't have at the end of regulation to advance the ball. Pretty big little play.
- Roy Hibbert picked up two quick fouls but played through it to survive the half with only three fouls. He would eventually pick up a couple more fouls, but he was a factor on the floor when he wasn't fouling. Roy's line shows he scored 19 points and grabbed six rebounds. But he also had several deflections at the defensive end, bellied out for a loose ball to keep a possession alive amongst a few Hornets and sprinted the floor to finish a break with a dunk off a feed from Jarrett Jack. Nice to see the flashes and a game developing for the big fella.
- Back to Paul for a minute. Prior to the game JOB was asked to compare CP3 to Devin Harris. He said the difference is that Paul is a "bulldog" and that combination of power and speed was evident in the fourth quarter. On one play he took the inbounds pass off a made free throw and was fouled at the rim in less than four seconds. A power blur, if you will. Then once he felt he had it going, he created space against bigs off the drive with these mosterous side steps that created about five feet of space. Somehow after such a huge jump at full speed he was still able to have enough balance to put up the open shot. Oh, and make it. Remarkable.
- Troy Murphy had another nice night with 16 points and 16 rebounds. He also drew a technical at the end of the first half when Hilton Armstrong took exception to Murph's posturing with Chris Paul after the final play of the half. Armstrong shoved Murph and Granger made the technical free throw before the start of the third quarter.
- Despite the solid shooting numbers, the Pacers had trouble finding offense from their usual sources. Granger got his, but Hibbert and Murph were the only other players in double figures. Marquis Daniels only had seven points on eight shots. Jack ended up with nine points and Brandon Rush only took one shot in 23 minutes.