The Indiana Pacers got off to a quick start then picked up the pace from there and kept running and scoring through the final buzzer to earn a big, 128-106 win over the visiting Milwaukee Bucks.
Wow! Two wins in a row. 120-plus points in both wins. Once again, this Pacer team proves they're in it for the long haul and will keep grinding through the whole season. Since that kind of hard work reaps rewards, nights like this one are well earned.
It is the attitude of this team, which by the way is completely misunderstood by the casual fans around town who don't bother to pay attention, that keeps me rooting for Ws. Yes, the losses are soothed by looking ahead to draft day, but this draft won't solve every problem and seeing the current players work hard, improve their games, and start learning how to close out wins is far more valuable in the long run.
So, what was so good against the Bucks:
- Mike Dunleavy wasn't merely good, he was outstanding. Again. For the second game in a row, Dun pumped in a career-high tying 36 points. 11 of 17 from the floor, 4 3-balls and 10 of 12 from the line shows how well Dun is shootin' it. Yet, after the game he was hung up on the two missed free throws. At least he's not satisfied. Dun also had another cut open up on his lip requiring stiches in the first half. The guy is getting scarred up this year.
- Danny Granger held down Michael Redd for key stretches in this game. It cost him some fouls which allowed Redd to get off eventually, but Danny matched him offensively as well, dropping 27 points and adding 9 rebounds. The confidence in Granger's game continues to grow.
- Travis Diener has been starting at PG for 16 or the past 17 games. Over the past seven games Diener has shown much more command of the position. Against the Bucks, Travis finished with an efficient 15 points and 6 assists. Over the past seven games Diener has handed out 48 assists with only 7 turnovers.
- Jeff Foster is always there, isn't he? Tonight in a mere 26 minutes, Foster hauled in 16 rebounds, had a couple of blocks and a few assists, just playing the role of a key cog holding it all together.
- Kareem Rush, Marquis Daniels and David Harrison all made nice contributions off the bench. Yeah, Harrison gets some props for his effort. He was real active, in a positive way, in the second quarter and finished the game with 7 points and 5 rebounds. In the second quarter, Harrison rolled to the hoop twice and after receiving a pass threw down two stantion-rattling dunks.
- New Pacer, Flip Murray made his first appearance with 7:53 left in the game. A minute later he had his first bucket. It was garbage time, but O'B had Flip running the point. The guy can score in this league, though. Mike Wells suggested that Flip might be a scoring option late in tight games. A role that has been absent and pretty much destroyed this season. Hey, it's worth a shot.
- Shawne Williams was on the bench in street clothes. I was hoping his minutes would go to Stephen Graham tonight, but no such luck. Stevie snuck in for the final four minutes and change. But, those go in the garbage minute bucket for sure.
- Enjoy the good times for a couple of days because a Texas two step against the red hot Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs is on the horizon beginning on Wednesday.