The Pacers' Texas road trip is now the "Texas two-stepped-in-it" trip after dumping a hard fought game to the Rockets, 86-76. While the Pacers played well and battled, the loss ended up being quite painful and following a familiar script. Painful because late in the fourth quarter, Jermaine O'Neal took another hard blow to his already injured left knee. He's out for tonight's game against San Antonio, and again we're left to wonder when or if he'll be back.
The familiar script came in the fourth quarter when the Rockets went on a game-winning run and the Pacers had no one to answer at the other end. J.O. and Tinsley had solid games but as I mentioned after the Hawks game, life would be so much easier if even one of Granger, Murphy, or Dunleavy would step up each game to chip in 20 points. Against the Hawks the three combined for 62 points. Against the Rockets, they could only muster up 16 combined points. Other items of note:
- The Pacers came out shooting horribly, but since the Rockets weren't much better they were able to hang around. After making a paltry 8 of 23 FGAs in the first, the Pacers were only down 18-16.
- The Pacers actually played some solid defense throughout the night. During the long losing streak, they seemed to combine the poor shooting we saw last night with poor defense. Tonight the defense was OK, but the poor shooting combined with a solid Rockets team did them in.
- Jamaal Tinsley was on top of his game as he usually is when a NYC point guard is running the other team. Matched up against Skip to My Lou, Tins was able to take him inside for some easy buckets and finished with 22 points, 6 assists. He still had a few maddening turnovers which always seem to stick out more than the points.
- Speaking of Tinsley, since the game was on TNT, Reggie Miller offered some pointed Pacers comments at the half. Reg defended the Pacers against some Barkley harassment, saying the Pacers are not the Bengals, they had some mishaps. Instead he took a Tinsley for task for his on court game. Mentioning that Tins has so much talent and when he is really into it, the Pacers are a better team. Unfortunately, he's not always into it. Barkley jumped in and mentioned the Tinsley should be better now than he is. He hasn't progressed from his early years. This is what I like to call, THE TRUTH.