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Pacers 123, Nets 115: Hangin' Tough

To paraphrase an old school boy band: oh oh oh oh oh, hanging tough!

The Indiana Pacers gutted out a strong, second half defensive effort against the New Jersey Nets for a 123-115 win to keep their lingering playoff hopes alive, once again. Since I didn't see this game, here's Bruno's breakdown.

For much of the year, it has been a common source for criticism. With the season on the line, it earned the praise. Shutting down the Nets in the fourth quarter with one of their best defensive performances of the year, the Pacers pulled away to beat New Jersey 123-115 Friday before 13,282 on Sixth Man Night in Conseco Fieldhouse.

"I thought our defense won the game for us," said Coach Jim O'Brien. "We really sat down and took pride in keeping the ball in front of us (in the fourth quarter). Our guys really took ownership of the defense."

Holding a perilous 92-91 lead entering the fourth quarter, the Pacers limited the Nets to three baskets in the first 11 minutes of the quarter, and then made their free throws down the stretch to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Defense? Really? Can't wait to go back and watch the second half of this one. Let's face it, down seven at the half, the Pacers had their backs against the wall. As they usually do, they came out swinging, but it sounds like the execution matched the effort.

Big ups to Troy Murphy for returning with a huge game (21 and 17). Murph's absence was big in New Jersey. Not that he can carry the Pacers to a win, but his play has been so good of late, he is now a key cog in the system that makes good things happen.

No, Jermaine O'Neal, but Monday sounds like a serious possibility. Building on this defensive effort by adding J.O. to the mix, may be enough to keep the wins coming in this late playoff push. Now, if the Hawks would just lose a couple of games.