All road wins are pretty no matter how ugly the process.
On Tuesday night, the Pacers were stuck in the muck of an ugly affair with the Sacramento Kings, but fought through loads of whistles, grinding play and far too many missed perimeter shots to secure another road win, 107-98.
In a game with 55 fouls, there was little flow to the action throughout and the Pacers really struggled to find their rhythm in the first half. The defense which has earned the Pacers' high praise over the past couple of days was nowhere to be found, proving this squad isn't good enough to just show up and assume they can hold a team like the Kings down.
For some reason, Jim O'Brien allowed Darren Collison to start the game on Tyreke Evans instead of starting Brandon Rush on Evans and letting DC cover Luther Head. Maybe it was a test, I don't know, but Collison couldn't control Evans early as the Pacers struggled to keep the ball out of the lane. Evans and reserve guard Beno Udrih score half of the Kings 52 first half points as the teams went to the break tied.
Fortunately, the Pacers shook back into form after the break and put forth a much more assertive effort on defense while riding their leading man to a double-digit lead. Danny Granger finished with a season-high 37 points on only 19 shots from the floor as he mixed in several nice drives to the lane which produced 11 trips to the lane.
The Pacers could never quite knock out the Kings, as they dragged the Pacers' lead down to six a few times with DeMarcus Cousins wreaking havoc for a stretch in the fourth quarter. Foul trouble slowed down the Kings' rook though which was fitting since the Pacers' front court also juggled minutes with foul problems.
The Pacers actually used the clock quite wisely to close out the game, even if the possessions matched the ugly description of the game. Darren Collison threw the final dagger with a nice little runner just before the shot clock buzzer to put the Pacers up 8 with a little over a minute to play. From there, Josh McRoberts, DC and Granger wrapped things up by going 6-6 from the line.
The end result is all that matters, as the Pacers move to 9-7 and 2-0 on this roadie. Now they can take a small stack of house money with them to Utah tomorrow night for brutal back-to-back game against the Jazz.
A few more thoughts, after the jump.
- Solomon Jones came up huge again for the Pacers. With Josh McRoberts and Roy Hibbert drawing fouls, Solo had to play some big minutes and while he also drew his share of whistles, he also had some huge plays. An stretch of 8 points in the first half which included two And 1 plays was a big reason the Pacers were able to remain tied at the break. Jones finished with 12 points, 4 rebounds and a blocked shot in 17 valuable minutes.
- The Pacers really struggled from behind the arc tonight. They finished 6-19, but Mike Dunleavy and James Posey combined to go 2-10. Dunleavy finished 3-10 from the floor on the night. The killer was that the bulk of these shots were wide-open looks that were nearly impossible to pass up. Hopefully, they'll be falling in Utah tomorrow night.
- Roy Hibbert had to grind through a tough night but found a way to produce against Samuel Dalembert and Boogie Cousins. Hibbert finished with 16 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists including a beautiful sweeping drive through the lane in the second half as the Pacers put up their lead.
- Josh McRoberts struggled with early foul trouble as he continues to attract whistles. McRoberts finished the game strong, though and really seems to help make the defense go when he's on the court with Hibbert.
- Tyreke Evans only had 5 second half points which included a late 3-ball after things were decided. While Beno Udrih finished with a season-high 24 points, the Pacers were able to slow down the two guards in the second half.
- Darren Collison finished this game at point guard after his early struggles defensively. T.J. Fordwas a bit sloppy tonight and wasn't providing any defensive relief so JOB rode Collison through crunch time. DC finished with 17 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
- The Pacers will need all hands on deck tomorrow night after Danny Granger logged 40 minutes tonight. His 37 points and 7 rebounds were huge for the Pacers as 33 continues his solid play to lead the Pacers.