For all of you Pacer fans willing to live in misery and root for losses to improve draft position, indulge me while I celebrate a win. After eleven straight losses, the Pacers finally made the game look easy and in doing so collected an easy W. Danny Granger made the first shot of the game to put the Pacers up 2-0, and they never looked back, leading the final 47 minutes and 26 seconds of the game for a 113-90 win.
This was a full team effort with big contributions coming from several players. Just looking at the team stats gives you an idea of how well the Pacers played: 52.3 FG%, 23-25 Free Throws, 27 assists, 10 turnovers
The team effort was so solid that the Pacers put up this blow out on a night when Jermaine O'Neal was merely pedestrian. J.O. only made 2 of 12 FGAs and finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Fortunately, the big lead throughout the game allowed J.O. to limit his minutes and rest his knee.
To make sure I recognize all the key contributors to this rarest of wins, I think I'll do a little roll call:
- It is St. Patrick's Day, so we gotta start with Troy Murphy. Murph got his Irish up and ended a little shooting slump, making 10 of 13 FGAs to lead the way with 22 points.
- Danny Granger started the night off with a bucket and finished with 19 points. He flashed his talents at the defensive end with 3 steals and a couple of blocks.
- Mike Dunleavy made 7 of 8 shots including a couple of 3-balls to tack on 21 points. For those of you keeping track, that's 62 points from Granger and Murphleavy. If these three could ever bring a consistent scoring punch to join J.O. the Pacers would still be humming along in solid playoff position. Even if they took turns scoring 20-25 points in support of J.O., the team would be in great shape. Oh, well, gotta enjoy the effort tonight.
- Jamaal Tinsley played a solid 27 minutes of PG. After scoring 37 in a loss two games earlier, Tins went the classic PG route and set up his teammates. For once, he did so without a handful of careless possessions that can wipe out several solid minutes of play. Nope, tonight Tins took care of the ball and his teammates to the tune of 14 assist and zero, zip, nada turnovers.
- Ike Diogu came of the bench and made 6 of 7 shots and the three free throw opportunities he had for 15 points in 19 minutes.
- And last but not least, let's not forget about Darrell Armstrong. He pitched in eleven points and three 3-balls which is nice. He also raised the team's spirit and brought out the smiles that were MIA across the roster during the losing streak. See, DA is always determined to get a dunk in a game. He had a good opportunity in the second half with the Pacers lead in the 20s. But he couldn't quite make the throw down and bailed at the last second leaving and awkward spin on the ball that bounced around the rim before falling in. The whole sequence sent the bench into hysterics, no one more so than Jamaal Tinsley who appeared to be hyperventilating at one point trying to contain his laughter.
So now the Pacers can exhale after ending the losing streak and rest a couple of days before heading to Texas for back-to-back games against Houston and San Antonio. I'm not so giddy with this win that I consider those games winnable but I will be interested to see how the team plays.