The Indiana Pacers gave up a double-digit lead late in the fourth quarter but this time they found a way to pull out the win over the visiting Detroit Pistons, 106-102.
Last night's elimination loss in Atlanta was a fitting microcosm of the season considering the exciting close game in which the Pacers just didn't have enough fire power and came up short in the end.
Tonight's win highlighted the growth of the Pacers this year through the adversity and tough losses. Fifteen time this season, the Pacers have given up double-digit leads and eventually lost the game.
Tonight, Brandon Rush drilled a 3-ball with 9:18 left in the game to put the Pacers up 12. From there the Pistons chipped away at the lead until Rip Hamilton knocked down a three pointer of his own with 2:09 left to put the Pistons up 100-99.
But instead of a here-we-go-again loss, Jarrett Jack made a mid-range jumper to put the Pacers up once and then simply willed in a running layup over the long arms of Rasheed Wallace. No, no, no...GREAT SHOT. Pacers up 103-102. Jack always has the guts to take the big shots with the game on the line and tonight he came through when the Pacers were desperate.
From there, the Pacers closed out the game with three straight stops at the defensive end and 3 of 4 free throws at the offensive end. There was no final possession for the Pistons where they could make a shot and break hearts in the Fieldhouse, as we saw so many times earlier in the year in similar games.
Tonight was about showcasing the growth of the Pacers as a team starting to put together their toughness with execution. All the new faces from the beginning of the year are as familiar as old friends now. Roles and expectations are all centered around the team winning and that progress was evident tonight.
A few other thoughts:
- First, the crowd was spectacular tonight with a near sell out at the Fieldhouse. The game was a bit choppy and frankly, dull during the first half. But after Brandon Rush caught fire and the game action heated up in the second half, the crowd was into it. Should be another big crowd on Monday for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
- Speaking of Rush, he had another solid game finishing with 21 points and 7 rebounds including 5-8 from behind the arc. The nice thing about this effort for Rush was that he started out slow, missing a few shots but didn't stop looking for his shot. In the third quarter he couldn't get enough shots and they were dropping.
- Jarrett Jack and T.J. Ford were a dynamic duo tonight combining for 36 points, 11 assists and only 3 turnovers. Ford has played well enough to earn back his starting spot without a doubt, but he's playing so well even he might balk if JOB were to let him start one of the last two games.
- Danny Granger needed 22 shots to score 24 points, so the offense was a struggle tonight. One thing I enjoyed from Danny, which has been common lately is that he scored a lot with his mid-range game and only took three 3-balls. He does a great job of freeing up space to get his shot off in traffic, which is another part of his game he has developed throughout this year.
- Roy Hibbert made another positive impact in the game, getting off to a solid start and finishing with 9 points and 8 rebounds. He also blocked 4 shots and once again avoided foul trouble. Pretty solid night at both ends of the floor for the big rook.