Consider these last two games against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors a mid-season training camp for the Indiana Pacers as they adjust to the tweaks in play and playing rotations instituted by new coach Frank Vogel.
The Pacers needed all 48 minutes of work in each game to secure wins against the two struggling teams, but win they did. But there's no doubt, tomorrow night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers will provide a reality check to see if the Pacers can clean up their overall game and continue to rely on young players in larger roles.
Among the links today, we learn that Vogel is letting Darren Collison and A.J. Price run the offense when they're on the floor. The adjustment in style on the floor along with some different combinations of players has played a big role in the 43 turnovers the Pacers have coughed up in the past two games. But many of those turnovers were also simply due to sloppy play and loose ball handling, areas that need tightening up regardless of the players on the floor.
But even though the team isn't firing on all cylinders, they appear to be enjoying the new approach. Collison is bouncing around on the floor in attack mode at all times like he's trying to make up for lost time. I also noticed sign of confident, can-do attitude from Danny Granger as he closed out the game last night.
The Pacers were up three when Granger was fouled with 10.8 seconds to play. As he made his way to the other end of the court with a chance to seal the win for the Pacers, there was no consternation on his face. Granger is a great free throw shooter but has struggled at times late in games this season. Last night, though, the look on his face said, "This game is over!" Of course, he stepped up and knocked both down, putting that mind set into action.
After the jump, plenty of links on the win last night and other stories from around the league.
- Box score
PACERS: Game Rewind: Pacers 117, Cavaliers 112
Game Rewind has highlights, analysis, notes, quotes and stats from the Pacers' 117-112 win over the Cavs Wednesday night in Cleveland.
Pacers beat Cavs, remain unbeaten under Vogel
Mike Wells reports on the Pacers hanging on to beat the Cavs.
Vogel says Pacers point guards will get more freedom
Mike Wells notes Vogel wants his point guards run the offense, continues planning to activate Lance Stephenson and remains anonymous on the road.
- AP: Pacers send Cavs to 22nd straight loss
- Larry Bird determined to keep Pacers' options open with new CBA - Ian Thomsen - SI.com
Cleveland Cavaliers seem destined to catch history, but not victories, this season
Bill Livingston comments on the Cavs losing streak continuing last night.
- NBA rumor updates: Carmelo, Warkentien, Lakers, Pacers - CBSSports.com
Ron Artest may want a trade - Ball Don't Lie - NBA
KD offers a nice overview of Ronnie letting the truth slip and then trying to clean up the mess with some help from his friends.
Riding The Clutch | Hickory High
Ian Levy digs deep into the idea of crunch-time performance and finds several different ways players can make clutch plays in tight games.