After a strong and confident start to the game, the Pacers let an early lead slip away thanks to a case of the clanks which forced the blue and gold to mount a rally in the fourth quarter. As they have all week, the Pacers made enough plays down the stretch to sneak away with a 91-88 W.
With 7.1 seconds left, the result could've easily went the other way, but Celtics' summer big, Nick Fazekas missed two free throws with the Pacers leading 89-88. Tyler Hansbrough then cashed in two free throws to give the Pacers' their winning margin which was stout enough to withstand a Fazekas 3-ball miss at the buzzer.
Honestly, we saw much of the same from the Pacers tonight. They played hard throughout the game and found a way to win in the end. They're making it look easy, so here's a few specifics:
- Box Score
- The Pacers didn't shoot the ball real well (43.5 %) but they took advantage of excess possessions and a +17 advantage in made free throws. Once again, Roy Hibbert and Tyler Hansbrough led the parade to the line with the two bigs combining to make 17 of 19. Hibbert made all seven of his freebies while Hansbrough was 10-12.
- At one point, Dante or Galante said, "just blow the whistle and put him at the line and save us some time" after Hansbrough caught a pass in the lane. Instead the play ended in a nice little 8-foot, fade-away from the rook.
- Hansbrough and Hibbert combined for 50 points and just wore out the Celtics around the hoop. Hibbert's right-handed baseline hook is closing in quickly on automatic. Real nice option in a half-court set. If only the C's would trot out Robert Swift and Nick Fazekas during the regular season.
- Brandon Rush sat out again and I assume he won't play in tomorrow afternoon's finale. I haven't heard anything that should raise concerns about Rush's sore knee. Well, except for the fact that Mike Dunleavy had a "sore knee" most of last season. Speaking of Dunleavy, he was in the house watching his teammates get after it.
- Trey Johnson has taken advantage of Rush's absence and played plenty of minutes this week. He's looked pretty solid in the past two outings. He finished tonight with an efficient 13 points and only one turnover in 31-plus minutes of burn.
- A.J. Price came out real strong, ended up struggling with his shot a bit but ran the team well and took care of the ball during his extended playing time.
- The Pacers survived a 3-ball barrage from Celtics' guard, Chris Lofton who splashed 6 of 8 long ones. Lofton did pull up for an ill-advised three in a transition situation with the C's down one in the waning seconds. Personally, I love the effort, but that type of play could have Lofton heading back to Turkey next season. The kid can shoot it, though.
- Finally, Roy Hibbert captured the Pacers' effort in Orlando all week in one play tonight when he went to the floor hustling for a ball headed out of bounds. Even Larry Bird offered up a round of applause for Hibbert's effort and The Pres isn't exactly known for his outbursts of emotions.
Pacers wrap up the week's play against Orlando tomorrow at 3:00PM EDT.