Halfway through the second quarter, Blake Griffin had scored 26 points and the possibilities were very realistic: he’s going to go for 50 tonight. When the buzzer sounded, it wasn’t too far off, as The Poster Child finished with an NBA season high 47 points. Interestingly, despite all of this, the Pacers were prepared to deal with this possibility and weathered this eerily realistic NBA Jam session remarkably well thanks to huge nights from Danny Granger and Darren Collison.
Collison especially made it well known he was glad to be back home in southern California. He exploded for 17 points in the first quarter and led a fast and exciting break that saw the Pacers step up offensively and make play after play. Griffin continued his onslaught into the second quarter, and it was Granger who would take on the task of going point for point with him, taking advantage offensively when Griffin was guarding him.
Griffin had a "quiet" third quarter, but former North Central standout and Mr. Basketball Eric Gordon came on in a big way to help propel the Clippers to a one point lead heading into the final twelve minutes on his way to 23 of the quietest points you’ll ever see. Once there, Los Angeles took no prisoners, finishing the quarter 13-17 from the field, including a seven point run that gave the Clippers a double digit lead, just enough for Griffin to close the game out for them in unstoppable fashion. It didn’t matter who was on Griffin, the end result was him getting the basket (19-24 from the field) or ending up at the line (with five and-one opportunities).
All night, both sides looked for a third man to join in with Collison, Granger, Gordon, and Griffin’s explosions, and it was Baron Davis who stood up for LA in the fourth quarter to give them the extra little push they needed to escape with a home win. For the Pacers, it puts them at 0-1 on their four game road trip, a stretch of games they need to perform well in given the opposition, and weren’t able to corral this victory despite having big nights from Granger and Collison. Griffin will get the glory for this one, as he rightfully should, but Pacer fans should be very pleased with the effort from these two guys despite the loss.
After the jump…what can I say? Griffin should be in the MVP running this year…
- Danny Granger finished with a team high 32 points and did so in very positive fashion. In O’Brien’s small ball lineups, he did what he could against Griffin, which was about or maybe slightly better than what everyone else was doing, but he made sure to make up for it offensively when those matchups occurred. Granger sank three of his three point field goals with Griffin chasing him. Granger had 32 points on just 16 attempts, including 11 trips to the line. That’s definitely more in line with what we need to get from him offensively.
- Darren Collison joined Granger by putting his own season high numbers up, finishing with 30 points and to go alongside 8 assists. He did so on 17 shots and 8 free throws. Collison’s 17 first quarter points were key in keeping the game in a positive manner as the Pacers braced for Hurricane Blake.
- All night, the Pacers searched for a third contributor to get them over the hump. The closest they got was James Posey. Posey had a trio of triples that led to ten points for him. Posey will certainly be shouldering some of the blame for how this one turned out, since there were a few possessions he was matched up on Griffin and it wasn’t even fair. Posey was obliterated defensively each and every time. But he did about as well as anyone did, and for some positives, he was the only player on the right side of the +/- with a rather sizeable +10. Not a be all end all, but certainly, Posey didn’t do anything bad tonight.
- Jeff Foster may have been the most successful on Griffin, which is relative, considering I can only recall one possession where Foster actually stopped him, even though Griffin actually scored on that possession as well. Foster had eight boards and five assists, and managed to get the better of Griffin a couple of times.
- Aside from some plays here and there from Brandon Rush, Paul George, and Solomon Jones, the Pacers managed to be a huge no show today. After a positive play to start the game, Tyler Hansbrough effectively disappeared and didn’t return. Mike Dunleavy meanwhile forgot to pack his shot, finishing 1-10, including 0-5 from behind the arc, despite some positive looks. Roy Hibbert deserves no excuses for his 4 points in 12 minutes thanks to quick and often foul trouble. T.J. Ford was the emergency ration for Collison, but seemed to really leave the game in a worse situation than he left it each time he left the court with costly play. What about Josh McRoberts? Surely he could've made some kind of impact against Griffin? Well, McRoberts sat this one out with the team's only DNP-CD.
The Pacers nearly got away with one. Most of the team struggled to make any sort of impact, but had a chance to draw out with a close victory against a game changing player in his best game of what I’m sure will be many best games. In the end, it was just like NBA Jam; Griffin and Gordon scored 70 to Granger and Collison’s 62. Unfortunately, it was a Clipper making the difference making plays down the stretch, not a Pacer.
So Indiana falls in their first game of their "It’s a toss up! But we really need as many as we can get…" road trip, and will have to be prepared to bring the offensive fireworks out again as the Pacers travel northward to Oakland to visit the Golden State Warriors.