No heroic comebacks required in New Jersey.
The Indiana Pacers won their past two games after falling behind by more than 20 points in the first half. Against the Nets, they skipped the drama and instead built their own 20-point lead in the first half. The teams swapped the lead back and forth in the first quarter, but the Pacers finished the half with a 24-5 run, en route to a 41-point second quarter and a 72-52 lead at the break.
Danny Granger led the way without trying to dominate the action. He finished the half with 22 points and 4 assists, highlighted by a series of plays that included snapping off a perfectly stroked 3-pointer, then stealing a pass at the defensive and taking it to the rim. Granger didn't draw the foul, but used incredible body control to release a floater that hit all net.
The Pacers kept that halftime lead in tact without Granger's hot hand. Instead Brandon Rush carried the load for awhile, then Troy Murphy and Mike Dunleavy until it was apparent the Nets weren't up for battling their way back into the game. The Pacers closed out the win without a worry, 121-105.
This was a rare game that didn't include wild scoring swings. Once the Pacers established the lead at the half, the deficit hovered around 20 points the rest of the way. The Nets forgot about the ol' adage that everybody makes a run in the NBA. To the Pacers credit, they just didn't give the Nets hope for a run. The few times the lead did dip to around 15 points, the Pacers would knock down a three or get a couple of stops to push the lead back up and dissolve the Nets' momentum.
The numbers from this one were impressive, so let's get to the notes.
- The Pacers had 34 assist on their 43 field goals. Needless to say, there was some pretty good player and ball movement. The team actually played like they had confidence in each other to make plays. The beauty about all of that sharing was that the assists were spread out among so many players. A.J. Price, Earl Watson and Brandon Rush all had five assists, while Danny Granger, Roy Hibbert and Solo Jones had four each. Yeah, I know. On one play, Solo hit a cutting Murphy to set up a layup. It was that kind of night.
- The shooting numbers were almost as crazy as the assist numbers. The Pacers made 13 of 23 3-pointers and finished with an eFG% of 61.1%. Just going to assume that's a season-high. The most efficient shots are layups and 3-pointers and the Pacers had plenty of both.
- Brandon Rush started the second half and came out strong, scoring eight points in the quarter. Rush had an efficient night scoring 15 points on only 5 shots. Rush didn't miss a shot all night and added 5 rebounds and 5 assists. His one trip to the line was courtesy of a slick cross-over dribble and drive in the lane. Just hoping we see that again before the end of the month.
- Troy Murphy continued his stretch of solid play with 21 points on just 12 shots, as well as 14 rebounds and 3 assists. Front court mate, Roy Hibbert also chipped in 12 points and 6 rebounds but made his presence felt around the rim with 5 blocked shots.
- Earl Watson continued his steady play from the point as did his backup A.J. Price. Price continues to be a pleasure to watch. There were a handful of plays that would've increased the rookie's assist total had his teammate converted the shot.
- Watson was part of one of the most spectacular plays of the night when he found Dahntay Jones who went up a few floors to convert the alley oop into a sweet flush.
- Tyler Hansbrough was left outside the 10-man rotation used through most of the game. Probably more like a 9-man rotation since Luther Head tweaked an ankle early and didn't play much. Hansbrough did get 10 minutes of burn in the second half and still looked a bit out of sync, although he left a few bodies in his wake.
- Jim O'Brien coached in Adidas flip flops thanks to a broken toe. No word on whose ass he kicked to break the toe.
- The Pacers have a quick turnaround to get ready for their game with New Orleans on Saturday night at Conseco Fieldhouse. The early tip is at 6:00PM. Cornrows, Jr. loves him some Chris Paul, so I'll be in the stands for this one.