Somehow, someway, the Indiana Pacers went into Philly with only nine players in uniform and three of their top four scorers missing, and made the key shot and big stop necessary to earn a win over the 76ers, 95-94. Wow!
The Pacers could've folded several times throughout the night and no one would've blamed them after the physical double OT loss last night. Instead they battled all night and took advantage of a few guys stepping up into big roles. I took some notes while watching the DVR-cast, so I'll go straight to the bullets as I captured them during the game:
- Early in the second quarter, nice exchange where Josh McRoberts ran back on defense hard and was able to stuff Marreese Speights at the rim and kicking the ball out to T.J. Ford to run the other way. The play ended up with Brandon Rush knocking down a 3-ball. A few minutes later, McRoberts floated over to swap another attempt in the lane which led to an layup for Stephen Graham. Great stuff from the young fellas.
- Travis Diener made three triples and finished the half with 12 points which helped the Pacers cut a 15 point lead down to four at the half. Travis finally looked comfortable playing on the floor tonight.
- Three minutes into the third quarter, the Pacers were down one with a chance to take the lead. Brandon Rush set up Foster nicely for a uncontested bunny at the rim. Somehow, Foster was off balance and missed it. Philly answered and pushed the lead back to three. Little things. Fortunately, redemption wasn't far away.
- T.J. Ford gave the Pacers their first lead at 57-56 with six minutes left in 3Q. Ford had a nice quarter going, and the baseline jumper was a far better play than it appears in the box score. Ford had given a poor pass to Jarrett Jack on the baseline and Jack was scrambling out of bounds to save the ball. Jack was barely able to reach the ball so getting it back in play at all would be a solid effort. Immediately after Ford threw the initial poor pass, he ran to the only spot Jack could save the ball and made the save appear easy. It also set up the eventual jumper that ended the play. Little things.
- Josh McRoberts continues to develop and flash plenty of game. The guy gives big effort and looks to make plays constantly. Tonight he had a nice little interior offensive game going, scoring on a couple of runners in the lane and eventually draining a 19-footer. McRoberts played huge minutes including finishing the game in the fourth quarter. He was active and stout defensively with several big blocks in the game. At one point, Quinn Buckner dubbed him McBlock.
- Brandon Rush toned down the shot attempts and actually had a nice night shooting the ball. He scored 11 points and made 3 of 5 threes.
- For a long stretch in the fourth quarter, Rush, Hibbert and McRoberts were all playing and keeping the Pacers in touch with Philly. There were some rook moments though. As nice as McRoberts played, he had one head-scratching rookie move. After getting a baseline dunk attempt blocked at the rim, Josh picked up the ball on the ground and for some reason tried to sneak a pass to Jeff Foster through his legs ala Jeff Saturday. Foster certainly wasn't expecting it and it found a couple of knees in the fray anyway. Quick turnover with the ball around the rim. Little things.
- I have a pretty solid record of not complaining about the refs, but I must take exception to a critical call with 2:24 left in the game. The Pacers were down four and Andre Miller had just missed a 17-footer. Both McRoberts and Foster had position on their man as they battled for the rebound. Sam Dalembert climb up on top of Foster and as he continued going over Jeff's back, Foster grabbed some jersey. Whistle. Foul on Foster. Unreal. Naturally, Dalembert missed a free throw because the ball don't lie.
- Further justice was meted out with 1:30 left in the game when Foster finished a nice and 1 with the foul on Dalembert. Considering Foster has been struggling with the bunnies of late, seeing him finish the play from Jack was real nice. A great replay showed the bench players explode with excitement. All four of them.
- Jarrett Jack came up with a second great play after setting up the Foster three-point play. Instead of powering his way into the lane, he went in under control, patiently gave a pump fake and hit a little fade-away ten footer. Nothing forced. Not begging for a foul. Just making a play to put the Pacers up 93-90. Little things. Then on the next possession, Jack took the ball and the game into his hands again. This time he pushed it into the lane again but there was no jump stop, no control. Instead he jumped in the air and had nowhere to go with the ball. Lou Williams took the desperation pass at the top of the key and went in uncontested for a layup. Sixers up 94-93. Little things.
- With 17.9 seconds left, JOB put the ball in T.J. Ford's hands. T.J. worked the clock down with Andre Iguodala guarding him to make sure T.J. Would have to give up the ball instead of trying to score in the lane. Without the usual high screen, T.J. Was on his own. He took a hard dribble to back off Iguodala and then pulled up from 18 feet and splashed a text book jumper with 3.8 seconds left.
- Iguodala tried to return the favor as he drove on Brandon Rush, Jeff Foster was standing solidly in his way with a little help-side and Iguodala's off-balance shot bounced off the rim. Unreal W for the Pacers.
- After Foster secured the miss and the players began to celebrate, Quinn Buckner perfectly expressed the emotions of the game, "Good for these guys. Good for these guys. Good for these guys. Good for these guys. How sweet is that for these guys?"