"Bank!" From Brooklyn, with love.
2007 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Pacers came out like a team trying to make amends. Wins are hard to come by and they felt like they gave one away in Seattle. There were no such donations on Sunday afternoon as the Pacers jumped on the Clippers early and hung on late for a 101-95 win over the L.A. Clippers.
Man, I wish this game was televised because I would've loved to have seen the Pacers working so well with Jermaine O'Neal in the mix. It sounded like the vision we've heard O'B espouse, with J.O. contributing strong production within his offensive system.
Unfortunately, it didn't last the whole game. After jumping to an 18-point lead early in the second quarter, the Pacers followed their usual pattern and gave up the lead, trailing 51-50 at the half.
It was on in the second half, straight grind, with payments for hard work, pride and a big road W on the line. Any doubts that Jamaal Tinsley was laboring through the flu in Seattle on Friday, were confirmed by his incredible 29-point effort against the Clips. Don't let anyone snicker when you tell them the Pacers have developed a go-to-guy down the stretch and his name is, Jamaal Tinsley. Stick you chest out and smile, because Tins has been a stone cold assasin down the stretch lately. Even with the mess in Seattle, Tins made big some big shots to give the Pacers hope when it appeared over.
But today in L.A.? Well, Tins just said, "Yeah, this game? It's mine." I suddenly find myself getting excited as he dials up his 3-ball setter late in games. A sight that usually makes me cringe. He nailed two biggin's from 3-land in the last five minutes of the game. Oh, and then there's the punitive post play he dishes out to opposing point guards. A classic Barkley backdown, into either a spinning jumper in the lane or a spinning baseline jump hook off the glass. From the Brooklyn blacktop to you, with love.
Mike Dunleavy and Jermaine O'Neal also played big down the stretch, grabbing key rebounds and hitting free throws. J.O. actully put up some J.O. number, 20 points and 15 rebounds, in only 28 minutes. He was also big late, making his presence felt on defense and the glass. Let's hope he can walk tomorrow.
So, the Pacers finish the West Coast swing 3-1. As Mark Boyle mentioned, each game was tough and the Pacers could've finished the trip 0-4 or 4-0 quite easily. As it is, the Pacers are 9-9 and suddenly tied for second place in the Central Division. No time for the Pacers to look in the mirror and admire themselve. The next two games are at home against the Phoenix Suns and on the road at the Orlando Magic. Reality check games, nice, time to step up.