My thoughts exactly, Jeff.
(AP Photo/Tom Strattman)
Yeah, umm, the New Orleans Hornets are pretty good. When Chris Paul is yo-yoing the ball and playing off David West, they really good. The Pacers continued their solid play of late, refusing to be knocked out by the visiting Western Conference heavyweight. But in the end, the Pacers had no answer for the Hornets' playmakers and had to settle for a frustrating loss, 114-107.
Let's face it, when adding up wins and losses for the rest of the year, this one projected in the L column. Still, this was a pretty tight game throughout and the Pacers took advantage when they could to fight for the win.
But it is no surprise that the Pacers made their best runs in the game when Chris Paul was on the bench for a rest. In the middle of the second quarter and at the beginning of the fourth quarter Paul took a seat and the Pacers made their runs.
Both times, Paul returned to take control of the game. Man, I know this isn't a newsflash, but his game from the point is so whole. 3-ball, no problem. Break down a defender and get in the lane, no problem. Once past his defender he can pull up and hit a mid-range jumper, hesitate and then burst to the hoop and finish at the rim, or serve up an easy bucket for a teammate. The defense was at his mercy tonight. Pick a card, any card. Paul was dealing.
Then there's David West just playing like a beast. I have no idea how he missed ten shots (14-24) because it seemed like he didn't miss all night. West's little 15-17 foot setter is deadly, but don't try to defend it because he'll carry you to the bucket for an easy finish. Man, can that guy finish.
Okay, enough hat tipping to the Hornets. The Pacers had some good and bad to discuss. First of all, Shawne Williams came alive again down the stretch in the fourth quarter. Confidence is a crazy thing and Shawne is riding it right now. He finished the game with 17 points off the bench.
Travis Diener had a solid outing despite having to
Danny Granger continued his solid play finishing with 26 and ratcheting up his assertiveness in the fourth quarter. He is really trying to blossom into a leading man down the stretch.
David Harrison gave some real solid minutes off the bench, again, despite fouling out. DH scored 12 points but Chris Paul was giving him the fits when he would come over to double. At one point, Paul shook Harrison off balance so bad, David just grabbed him and picked him up off the ground.
The Pacers have a critical home-and-home later this week with the New Jersey Nets. A split is mandatory, but a sweep would be nice to put the Pacers in better position for the playoffs. Unless he has a set back, it sounds like Jermaine O'Neal will be in the mix for at least the second game. With the way the offense is clicking, J.O. just needs to bring a badly needed defensive presence in the middle and just let the offense come to him in the flow. Should be interesting and fun to watch. Just like tonight.