If only the Pacers could play the Nuggets more often. Tuesday night the Pacers and Nuggs played a game that was frenetic, beautiful, maddening, and oh, fun to watch. A little more fun in retrospect since the Pacers left the court with a big 112-110 win. With the game about to end, Clark Kellogg declared, "We've seen about everything tonight, partner."
It's late, so let me hit on the highlights.
- First of all, Jermaine O'Neal did not play tonight and probably won't play tomorrow night at Portland. He did practice yesterday and today, but is not ready to go.
- The Pacers started the game on fire, jumping out to a 15-0 lead at which point, Clark Kellogg mentioned if they were playing ping pong they'd have to start over. The lead went to 21-3 before the Nuggets worked their way back into the game. The Pacers second unit surrendered the big margin and the Nuggets had it down to two at one point int the First. Crazy.
- The ebb and flow of the game continued. There were times when the Pacers pushed the ball that the Nuggets appeared to have no interest in transition defense. The start of both the third and fourth quarters saw the Pacers put runs on the Nuggets by beating them down court.
- The Nuggets are so stacked with talent though and expect to win at home, that they just crank it up behind Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony whenever they feel like it. At least that's what it seems like.
- Nice part about this win was that the Pacers weathered some horrid officiating. Danny Granger had two very questionable charging calls on him. Then followed that up by being called for a block when Melo bull rushed him. David Harrison was whistled for fouls whenever he approached the action, but an arm rake "block" by Marcus Camby on Harrison that sent DH to the ground, didn't merit a call. The final call of the game on Mike Dunleavy was the kicker, literally. More on that later.
- When the Nuggets made a third quarter run during the Pacer foul fest, there was a stretch where the Pacers had three technicals within a one minute span. One on O'B, a second for defensive 3-in-the-key, and a third for delay of game after a made basket. The Nuggs made up a six point deficit in a hurry.
- Shawne Williams started instead of Troy Murphy. Nice to see Shawne aggressive on the glass and playing better defense. He finished with 11 rebounds, a block and even took a charge.
- Mike Dunleavy had a huge offensive night which usually indicates a Pacer win. He finished with 30 points, the last three of which appeared to ice the game by putting the Pacers up nine with 59 seconds to go in the game. But, noooooo. Crazy threes from Iverson and J.R. Smith combined with a few missed free throws by Jamaal Tinsley and Shawne Williams kept the Nuggets in the game.
- The Nuggs finally worked themselves into a chance to tie, down three with 11 seconds to go. With just over 2 seconds to go, Dunleavy had J.R. Smith smothered in the corner, but Smith pulled a classic Reggie Miller leg kick three and the ref actually made the call. Three frees for Smith. After looking confident in making the first two, he clanked the critical third shot and the Pacers escaped. Dunleavy was freaking out about the call even after the win was secured. In a post-game interview, he mentioned that basketball doesn't lie, so there's no way a guy can make all three free throws after a bad call.