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Warriors 106, Pacers 101: Pacers Hand W to the Dubs

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The Indiana Pacers turned in another solid effort but let a potential W slip away, as the Golden State Warriors finished with a fury to win, 106-101. I took some notes along the way so this is a little longer than the usual recap. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything in this one.

The Pacers jumped out to a great start, surging ahead 9-2 before Nellie decided he needed to chat with his club. The plan was obvious, pound the ball inside to J.O. and work from there. For the Warriors, the plan was to have Al Harrington attack Danny Granger from the post, an attempt to discourage the Pacers from using the smaller lineup. Al had mixed results to be kind and was subbed out after about five minutes.

The first quarter ended with the Pacers up 34-19, as the Pacer took advantage of several missed perimeter shots by the Dubs to push the offense going the other way. Mike Dunleavy had to enjoy splashing his first 3-ball right in the face of the booing Oracle crowd. The next possession, Dun took the ball behind the arc, drove past Baron Davis, lured Monta Ellis to jump and went under him for a reverse layup, transforming the boos to ughs.

The Pacers pushed the lead to 17, but that's pocket change for the Warriors. They started heating up in the second quarter and put together a 10-0 run on the Pacers' second unit. The Pacers went cold and couldn't keep up the pace they set in the first. The lead settled in at ten, but you could feel a Warriors outburst building. When J.O. and Tinsley went out and left the Pacers REALLY small, the Warriors put on an electrifying run to close within two. Monta Ellis has some freaky kind of nitrous boost in his game. He had some incredible, flying finishes at the hoop, juicing up the home crowd that was begging to go nuts.

The Pacers hung tough, though, and put a 8-0 run of their own in the final 50 seconds to sneak into the locker room with a 54-45 lead at the half. Travis Diener had a rough half, but was able to hit a wild runner at the buzzer.

The Pacers starting lineup with J.O. holding down the middle surrounded by Granger, Dunleavy, Rush, and Tinsley plays quite well together. Rush was tagged to guard Baron Davis which earned him three first half fouls. When Jack drew a foul on Rush he had to go out after only three minutes. Fortunately, Marquis Daniels is ready and waiting to play the same role. J.O. played with a lot of energy all night. Going at his buddy Al gave him a little extra motivation.

Jamaal Tinsley gave a flying Monta Ellis one of his patented Rucker-ball fouls in the open court which earned him a flagrant foul and gave the Warriors something to fire them up. The Dubs responded with an Ellis dunk (sick, by the way), a Croshere 3-ball and another Ellis bucket in Tinsley's mug. Cro played quite a bit and played well. It appears Cro's playing time is sporadic, but with the Pacers small lineup he was a good option to bring off the bench.

The way both teams pushed the pace, a +/- 8 point difference was as good as a tie. The Warriors had trouble getting the lead back but stayed within striking distance throughout the third. With 2:30 left, they closed it to one and O'B called a time out. Since the flagrant foul, the Warriors put together a 16-6 run and the game was up for grabs.

Baron Davis took over after the time out and soon the Warriors had the lead when no one in blue and gold could prevent Davis from getting to the hoop. Again, the Pacers closed the quarter well, ending with a little 5-0 run to maintain the lead 76-73.

The Pacers began the deciding quarter with a boost of energy. Jermaine O'Neal was salivating in the post with Al behind him. He rattled off five points and Jack helped us reminisce with a technical following a no call. The T stopped a layup and after making the free throw the Pacers turned it over, so the T ended up being good play. I know the pace breeds turnovers sometimes, but the Pacers really had some bad donations. In a tight game they seem crazy, but really, it was happening at both ends.

The empty possessions just proved to be too much for the Pacers (23 turnovers!). Monta Ellis had an incredible driving, hanging layup and 1 to put the Warriors up 100-98 with 1:37 left in the game. Believe me, both teams have had the opportunities to score 120 tonight but between missed free throws, ugly turnovers, and missed shots, the game became a grind. Ellis again rose to heights unknown to mortals allowing him to tip in a Baron Davis miss with 1:11 left giving the Warriors a 102-99 lead.

In the final minute, J.O. scored again on the inside. The Pacers couldn't get a key rebound twice and the Warriors went up three after Biedrins tipped in a miss. The Pacers had a chance to tie with a three, so the Warriors covered everyone but Tinsley forcing him to try to save the game. The ball came up short and that was the ball game. The Pacers didn't have the answers down the stretch, while Monta Ellis and Baron Davis just willed the Dubs to win. What a game, looking forward to the rematch on Wednesday.

The Pacers head home after a grueling 1-4 road trip. I was hoping for 2-3 but the W-L record on the trip is not a surprise. Despite the losses, the Pacers can take plenty of positives from the way they played over the final three games of the trip. Jermaine O'Neal was huge tonight going for 27 and 9 with 6 blocks. I love the role he's playing, anchoring the middle with the smaller, more agile lineup around him. The effort is there and it's fun to watch. At this point, we have to take what we can get.