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Pacers 95, Blazers 89: Ugly Wins Are Beautiful

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The Indiana Pacers were off their game offensively for most of the night, but kept grinding, which means continue running and defending and hope the shots eventually drop. In the end, just enough shots splashed to give the Pacers a 95-89 win over a feisty Portland Trail Blazers team.

I'm sure the Blazers hate being referred to as feisty, but they weren't playing any better than the Pacers. In the first half, the Rose Garden resembled a popcorn machine with leather clanking off rims in all directions on both ends of the court.

The Pacers were especially cold, but the Blazers were kind hosts and could only muster a nine point lead. This was a game where the Pacers should've been down 25 in the first half.

The Pacers asserted themselves better in the second half and finished strong to secure the win. The game resembled the Nuggets game in that the Pacers were able to push their lead to 12 but allowed the Blazers to wipe out that deficit. Then down the stretch the Pacers had to hold on to a 3-6 point lead by hitting free throws.

Unlike Denver, the Blazers didn't have a lethal treat step up to hit a big three to put pressure on the Pacers. While Carmelo Anthony, Allen Iverson, and J.R. Smith were falling all over each other wanting to hit a big shot, the Blazers were a bit hesitant and couldn't hit a lead-closing 3-ball in the last 2:45. Only Travis Outlaw was able to score a couple of buckets.

Meanwhile the Pacers rode Jamaal Tinsley down the stretch. His ugly shooting night didn't deter him from taking and hitting the big shots down the stretch. Tins has proven to be a guy who loves to let the game rest in his hands. He's not always the best choice, but I love his willingness to be the man. Last night he hit a couple of jumpers and four free throws in the final three minutes to seal the deal.

To be fair, Danny Granger stepped up when needed down the stretch, as well. Also, Jeff Foster was the glue that helped the Pacers stick to the Blazers throughout the game. Foster finished with 11 points and 17 rebounds. He and Tinsley have become a nice combination as Foster has kicked his habit of missing bunnies.

Good news all the way around as the Pacers move to .500 at 8-8. Plenty of heroes throughout the game that made the final possible. Now it's on to Seattle to take on the slumping Supersonics. Focus on the job at hand, hit some shots, and another W seems reasonable. Jermaine O'Neal should be back on Friday in Seattle.

Don't miss Mike Wells' report from Portland. Great quotes from O'B and Tinsley.