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Game Thread #30: Indiana Pacers vs. New Orleans Hornets

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New Orleans Hornets
Indiana Pacers
17-9 10-19
December 28, 2008 - 7:00PM EST
Conseco Fieldhouse
Radio: 1070AM WFNI TV: NBA TV (no local)
Probable starters:
Chris Paul PG T.J. Ford
Devin Brown SG Marquis Daniels
Rasual Butler SF Danny Granger
David West PF Troy Murphy
Tyson Chandler C Roy Hibbert

UPDATE: Bruno is LIVE! blogging. Peja is back for the Hornets and will start, moving Devin Harris back to thebench.

Coming off a tough loss to another sub-.500 team, the Pacers play the first of two challenging home games on Sunday night when Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets arrive at the Fieldhouse. Of course, David West always seems to cause the Pacers as much trouble as Paul. So either way you look at it, this game sets up as a challenge to say the least.

That's also why I'm excited for this one. In this bizarro season, the Pacers seem to play well against the league's best after stinking it up against a below average team. With the Hornets and then Atlanta Hawks in town this week, there's no time to wallow in pity over tough losses and a rash of missed games by key players. The ball will still be tossed at 7:00PM, ready or not. Fortunately, if you have to point to one positive about this Pacers team it is that they come out ready to play at 7:00PM regardless of the opponent or which players are suited up and available to play.

The stark reality of developing young talent on a rebuilt roster is that wins don't come easy. So while they're ready to play at 7:00PM they may not be ready to finish at 9:00PM...yet. The phrase is growing pains not growing pleasure. While the early season play gave the false impression that the Pacers may ease through the rebuilding process, the stack of L's they've compiled proves the Pacers will have to work for any future success they achieve. Fortunately, this team is willing to put in the work.

For the New Orleans perspective, check out At The Hive and Hornets 24/7.

Gameday Reading

  • Mike Wells checks in with a frustrated Larry Bird for the ultimate closer's thoughts on the Pacers' failure to close tight games.
  • Bob Kravitz checks in on the Pacers and finds a very good 10-19 team that is still 10-19, which may be a good thing if you zoom out to the big picture. With all my mentions of the little things causing games to go one way or the other, I thought Jim O'Brien summed it up efficiently with this comment.

    "We've lost seven games by four or less points,'' coach Jim O'Brien said. "My point to the players was, the difference in a four-point game is one possession. You can talk about end-of-the-game situations, but we're 25th in the league in turnovers, so one less turnover can be the difference in losing one of these games.

    "The other area where I've been disappointed is our lack of toughness defensively, our inability to be physical from the standpoint of stopping the ball from being driven to the basket. If we step in there one time, maybe take a charge, that's the difference in a close game.''

I will be checking in from the Fieldhouse for this one. Leave your thoughts and observations on the game in the comments.