Despite all the up and down play that's been a staple in the NBA this season, the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors gave basketball fans one heck of a game tonight, with countless lead changes and thrilling offensive possessions (with plenty of nod to defensive stands) eventually giving way to a 94-91 Pacers victory, a victory to halt their losing skid at one.
Neither Golden State or Indiana were ever able to pull out to more than a five point lead. Both teams simply had all the answers they needed to successfully respond. It truly unfolded in a thrilling way. Danny Granger led all scorers with 26 points on an efficient 10-16 shooting, but it was truly the efforts of Monta Ellis all night that made it the game it was. While George Hill had a solid defensive effort, Ellis's offense was just unreal; his turnaround jumper an absolute pleasure to watch.
In fact, the game itself was a pleasure. As odd as it seems coming off what felt like the biggest collapse in franchise history against Sacramento, the outcome of this game didn't even seem to matter. Both teams played well, hit shots, responded, took leads, made stops. It was a fun game to take in as a basketball fan above all else. But as the game came to six minutes in the fourth, the general excitement shifted to focusing on the blue and gold getting out of Oakland with a victory.
George Hill put the Pacers up five with six to go on a big three pointer, just to have Stephen Curry respond with seven quick points. Granger surrounded that with six of his own (adding in an assist) only to have Ellis dominate Hill with his automatic turnaround. With the game knotted at 91, Darren Collison, who didn't have his shot all night, called his own name with 25 seconds left, missing a jumper. The Warriors came down with it, with none other than George Hill covering Monta Ellis.
Hill really did do all he could on Ellis throughout the game, but good defense can't beat better offense. Ellis, in making his move with a few ticks remaining, had the ball stolen by Hill. Hill was fouled for a three point play that put Indiana up 94-91 with just under two seconds left. Stephen Curry left an open three long as a thrilling capper to a thrilling game that Indiana came out on top.
After the jump, the Pacers able to grab their tenth win:
- Danny Granger had his shot going all night. Twenty-six points on 16 shots is a great step up from his recent efforts, but it seems Danny likes to get up for games against the Warriors. Granger was also a perfect 3-3 from range, each three sweeter than the previous one.
- Roy Hibbert dominated the glass with a career high 16 rebounds en route to yet another double double for the big fella. He finished with just ten points; partially a product of him not being a focal part of the offense, part to do with his free throw struggles, and even some to do with him not taking full advantage of his chances. He still had an excellent game, really proving to be a threat to the undersized Warriors front line, begging the question: Why wasn't Roy a bigger focus of the offense? Surely there are more than 9 shots available for the big fella when he's having such a solid night.
- Speaking of playing big, David West had a season high 18 points on 7-12 shooting, muscling his way inside to get the shot he wanted all night. It was great to see West play physically inside; not that we hadn't seen it, but this felt like a breakout game of sorts. The Pacers front court depth may be an issue, but so long as Hibbert and West stay healthy, it's a formidable starting two.
- George Hill's defensive efforts were overshadowed by Monta Ellis's monster play, but it was big stops by Hill at the end of the first half and the end of the game that helped the Pacers tremendously. Hill's steal may in fact have been a kicked ball in his favor, one Mark Jackson wanted to have looked at closer, but it ended up being the play that helped the Pacers to the victory.
- Darren Collison's shot wasn't even close to being on. His floaters are a sure tell signs of whether he's got any kind of an offensive rhythm, and when he was missing those, it was obvious he needed to back off the shot. He did a solid job defensively and in distributing the ball with 9 assists, but 12 shots, hitting just one? That's far too many, especially for the questionable nature of the shots he was taking. It all came out in the wash, but there were a handful of wasted possessions at the hands of Collison tonight.
After the debacle in Sacramento, the Pacers were finally able to get their tenth win of the season, at least giving them the opportunity to come out ahead in their three game road trip which will conclude Sunday at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers have struggled a bit lately with a pair of one-sided losses, and the big scoring Kobe Bryant has taken a step back offensively in recent games. Either way, it's the beginning of a tough stretch for the blue and gold, one they could stand to get off to a good start in.