I had an exchange with Jared on Twitter the other night after the Orlando game, that unfortunately came true.
@8pts9secs So…I just got home from a 15-hour day at work. What’d I miss?
@toothpicksray Not much. Just a team that lost by 40 to a team that starts Chris Duhon beating the reigning East champs. Yawn.
@8pts9secs So, loss @ Minny Fri, then?
@toothpicksray Sounds about right.
This team continues to … well, a polite person would say confound. I’m going to go with irritate the ever-loving **** out of its fans.
There’s a sizable contingent of Pacer fans who believe ardently in the “Curse of Troy Murphy.” I’m not one of them but the amount of circumstantial evidence is getting impressive. Troy returned after a four-game absence just in time for the Pacers to follow up their uplifting win with another deflating loss to a bad team. (I’d say a worse team, but I’m not sure that exists.)
Still, I’m hesitant to lay the blame at T-Murda’s feet. He shot well and scored well. His rebounding was poor, and his defense was as suspect as always, but it’s not like the defense was all that much worse than it was 6 day prior. Last Saturday, the Pacers had a defensive rating of 111 in an 11-point win, and they posted a marginally worse 113.7 in last night’s loss. No, the real difference between tonight and last week was the offensive end, and that failure has other people’s fingerprints on it.
First, Danny returned to action last night. Glad to see it, and I love the guy to death, but … Seriously, dude? Ten Three-Point Attempts?
It didn’t help that he only managed to hit only three of them. It also didn’t help that, down 3 with 19 seconds left, he hoisted one without even trying to probe the middle. Yes, that’s on O’Brien, but it’s on Danny, too.
All Pacer fans were longing for Danny’s return. However, we’re hoping for the nasty scorer and sweet shooter from last year, not the indiscriminate chucker from earlier this year.
Also, Mike Dunleavy continues his poor play. It could be pointed out that the hit four of his six threes, but then it should be noted that he hit only one of his nine two-point attempts.
Granger and Dunleavy combined to score 37 points on 40 shots (FG’s and FT’s combined). Murphy and Hibbert combined to score 36 points on 27 shots. I never thought I’d say this, but O’Brien needs to put a leash on both Danny and Dunleavy. (I might go so far as saying he needs to sit Dunleavy entirely for awhile, but that’s for another day.)
Despite hitting 50% on threes, the Pacers still shot too many of them. I’m actually a big proponent of the three-point shot, and I believe that its use in the NBA has evolved to the point that it is a very effective and valuable weapon. However, last night showed what happened when you lose sense of proportion.
The Pacers scored 48 points on 32 three-point attempts last night — a fabulous return by any measure. However, it was fool’s gold. They hit 8-of-13 in the first half, but still managed only a one-point lead at the break. In the decisive third quarter, they shot another 8 trey’s, hitting a respectable three, but the rest of their game was so atrophied that the quarter represented a 12-point swing — the wrong way.
They opened the fourth down 11, but an AJ Price lay up cut the lead to one with 6 minutes to go. During the first 6 minutes of the fourth, 4 of the Pacers’ 11 FGAs were threes, and they outscored the T-Wolves 18-8. Over the final 6 minutes, 7 of their 10 FGAs were three’s, and they were outscored 16-10.
Five Other Things
(1) AJ Price probably played his best game of the season, providing 10 points and 7 assists in his 22 minutes play. In 4 January games, he’s averaging 9 points and 4 assists while hitting 40% from three. He’ll need a few more games at this level to lock in his rotation spot, but I think he’ll get them.
(2) Danny played 31 minutes in his return and apparently has no limitation on minutes. Perhaps the medical staff could give him a “3PA” limit.
(3) Josh McRoberts got a DNP-CD last night and Buckaroo Banzai was inactive despite reportedly being healthy. In all honesty, I don’t care one way or the other about McRoberts. A lot of people do, but I don’t. Buckaroo, on the other hand, concerns me. We’ll have to watch tonight.
(4) Big Roy had 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks last night. However, the most impressive thing he did was to play 10 full minutes in the fourth quarter after picking up his fifth foul. This shows amazing progress not only for him, but for O’Brien, who has regularly been accused of having Roy “foul out with 5 fouls.” Last night was also his 6th straight night with double-digit FGAs. He’d only taken 10 or more shots in 8 of the 29 games before this streak.
(5) If somebody could explain Brandon Rush, please drop us a line.
Pacers Replicate the Wrong Half vs Minny: By The Numbers
“Makes me sick, mother****er, how far we done fell.” – Bunk Moreland, The Wire