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Pacers 101, Blazers 93: Defense Is Fun

The Indiana Pacers played one of their best games of the year despite missing enough shots to get blown out by 20. Instead, the Pacers relied a defensive effort that literally came out of nowhere to fuel enough scoring opportunities to hold on for a 101-93 win. In the end, even a half decent shooting night, would've produced a 20-plus point win.

Now, I realize the Blazers were without their maestro, Brandon Roy, and appeared a bit off tune all night. Still, they had plenty of players capable of attacking the Pacers' Achilles' heel by driving the lane. Only, Jarrett Jack seemed willing to break down the defense, but for the most part the Pacers were real active on defense, getting their hands on a lot of balls and contesting perimeter shots. Honestly, where did this effort come from? With all the complaints about the team adapting to the new defensive system, I'd have to say a few lightbulbs must've gone off in practice yesterday. They were five working as one, which is the only way they can succeed on D.

More details:

  • Mike Dunleavy slammed his knee badly on a drive to the hoop in the first half. He returned to finish the half, but didn't play in the second half. So, the Pacers were without Jermaine O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, and Dun for the second half. Yet, the result was one of the best efforts we've seen in a couple of months.
  • FG% is usually a solid indicator of wins and losses in the NBA. Not tonight. The Pacers shot 36.9% to the Blazers 45% from the floor. That type of disparity with the winners shooting so much worse is an outlier that needs explanation.
  • In the third quarter the Pacers outscored the Blazers 20-15, but shot 4-16 from the floor. They only made one FG in the final 9:12 of the quarter. This is nutty people. But the defense was such a pleasant surprise, the clanks weren't nearly as frustrating as usual.
  • So with all the bad shooting, how did the Pacers score 101? Well, they made ten 3-balls and they lived at the line. The Pacers made seven more 3s than the Blazers and 11 more FTs (29 to 18). Plus, the Pacers' 16 offensive rebounds allowed them to clean up their own mess and add a few points.
  • A few individual mentions are necessary, beginning with Danny Granger. He actually shot pretty well and did a nice job of taking the ball to the hole strong. He finished with 29 points, made all nine of his free throws and drained four 3-balls.
  • Travis Diener played 38 plus minutes and dropped nine helpers without turning the ball over once. As a team, the Pacers only had six turnovers.
  • Kareem Rush and Marquis Daniels were the dynamic duo off the bench, again tonight. Rush finished with a double-double, playing heavy minutes with Dunleavy out. Neither had their stroke going on offense, but when they play together they work real well on defense. Tonight they worked really, really well on defense.
  • Speaking of defense, David Harrison had some huge minutes for the Pacers. Yeah, you read that correctly. DH played 16 plus minutes and only committed three fouls. Not only that, he had three blocks and a steal. He was active and, save for a couple of sketchy possessions, seemed in complete control of his game.
  • Finally, Jeff Foster was his usual self tonight. He worked his way into 14 rebounds and cleaned up a few clanks for putback points. Knowing his history of driving Shaq nuts, I'd be surprised if Larry Joe Legend isn't fielding more and more calls with trade offers for Foster.
The Pacers have now won two in a row for the first time since beating the Knicks and Sixers back in mid-December. With the Boston Celtics coming to town next Tuesday, that streak won't be easy to maintain. But one thing's for sure with the Pacers, no one knows what the next game will bring. I do know one thing, after tonight, the Pacers are due to hit some shots.