The Indiana Pacers should be thankful tonight after the basketball gods finally repaid them for all the wasted good minutes they played in their previous three games without a win to show for it.
After trailing by 10 to start the fourth quarter, the Pacers rode the hot hand of Troy Murphy (21 and 14, HUGE) back into the game and then weathered a furious finish that included a tip in by Danny Granger and an air-balled bunny by Yao Ming. When the smoke cleared after the final buzzer, the Pacers skipped out of Houston with the 91-90 W.
I wasn't able to watch this one live, but listened to Mark Boyle and Slick Leonard for most of the fourth. No better tandem to describe the improbable. In fact, I don't think either of them still believes the Pacers won and they were in the arena calling the action.
At this point, there's no way to analyze this team. They lose three gut-wrenchers after appearing to control the game. After being up seven after three quarters against Orlando, up 12 at the half against Miami, and up six after three quarters against Dallas the Pacers not only gave up all three leads but took the losses.
So naturally they win a game tonight against the Rockets after trailing by ten after three quarters. For some reason, over the past couple of years, this team plays better in an underdog role, fighting from behind. They can't find a lead dog to finish the job when running ahead, but when everyone has to do whatever it takes to get back in the game, no problem.
For a break-down of how all the action unfolded, check out Bruno's LIVE blog. From my perspective out in Seattle, this is how the end of the game unfolded.
Cornrows, Jr. snuck down from bed while I was listening to the final two minutes. He was supposed to be asleep but came down to "tell me something" and when he heard Boyle, knew the Pacers were on.
With expectations appropriately set, he asked how close the Pacers were. Only down three.
Then the Pacers have the ball down one. At the time out, the boy and I felt no nerves. We've been privy to so many heart-breaking finishes already this year that we weren't about to get sucked into this one.
Then something different happened. Instead of just hearing that Granger missed on his drive to the hoop (same ol', same ol'), there was a follow and Granger tipped the ball in to give the Pacers a 91-90 lead.
We were real happy for Danny since he struggled down the stretch, with his shooting in pre-season form (0-7 from 3-land, ack). So now the question was, which Rocket is going to crush our hope.
Wait! Ronnie Artest gave up the ball? Yao Ming airmailed the bunny? Ball is on the ground...waiting for a Rockets' miracle...nothing. The game is over!
I've never shared a moment of stunned excitement like that with my son before. We almost didn't know what to do, staring at the computer screen, half expecting Boyle to ruin the moment with a late whistle or something crazy.
With the final score posted, a hearty high five finally cemented the W. Back to bed for some sweet blue and gold dreams, my son.