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Pacers 93, Wizards 85: Pacers Answer With A Win

You try to figure out this Pacers team. Actually, save yourself the effort. Anyone who claims to be an expert and have a smart analysis for how this team wins and loses or what their ranking in the league should be is selling snake oil. The only given is a roster full of nice talent, each flawed enough to make their nightly contributions unknown at the opening tip.

Some might call that a curse, but I call it as a reason to tune in. The reality is that this roller coaster team offers plenty of plot lines to follow. Who will have the jumper going? Dunleavy? Granger? Both? Will Tinsley abuse his man in the post to add a scoring punch or just play a supporting role by feeding the shooters? Will anyone run with Tins to fill the lanes for easy buckets and apply pressure on the opponent? Will J.O. have it going on offense, if so, can he avoid foul trouble? Will assorted ailments keep J.O., Tinsley, Harrison, Foster, or Daniels on the bench? Will Murphy make his presence known or blend into the hardwood? What will we see from the bench? Will Kareem Rush be splashin' `em from distance? Will Marquis Daniels provide a huge lift and make a big impact with his defense and mid-range madness on offense or will he donate 10-15 minutes of non-descript filler? Will the defense hold together for 48 minutes? 36? 24? Will a hero emerge in the fourth quarter, if needed?

Determining what worked and what didn't for any single win or loss is not a problem. Usually it is some mixture of answers to the above questions. Still, knowing all the unknowns we know going into a game, it's impossible to figure out the elixir of basketball biorhythms flowing through the roster over the past two days that allowed the Pacers to give up 111 points in the final three quarters of a loss to Minnesota and then come home the next night and only give up 34 first half points to the Washington Wizards.

The Pacers needed that strong first half to beat the Wizards, 93-85 on Saturday night, bumping their record to 15-13. The Wiz have been playing short-handed and pretty well without Gilbert Arenas. But when a sprained ankle kept Caron Butler from playing, the Pacers suddenly had another ripe W waiting to be picked from the winning tree.

The Pacers appeared to have control at the half, but regardless of the opposing roster, no lead is safe with the Blue and Gold. On this night, Danny Granger stepped up and emerged as the hero in the fourth quarter. This was the assertive Danny Granger I love to see. The one that plays with an, "I'm Danny Granger and I want to be a force in the NBA" level of assertiveness as opposed to the "I'm Danny Granger and it's kind of nice playing in the NBA" level of assertiveness. By dropping four 3-balls and scoring 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, Danny delivered the knock out blows that will make the next three days without a game much easier to enjoy. I know I will.