Indiana Pacers 101 – New Orleans Hornets 107
Roy Hibbert played pretty well in the first quarter. No one else did. And the team for what feels like the 54th time this season got run off the court in the first half. You really start to wonder how these grown men who call themselves professional basketball players can collectively just not show up to play. The effort was horrible and the execution was worse. You would think the embarrassment of going down 11 points in the opening period would be enough to prompt some of these guys to drive to the hoop and try to make things happen. But apparently, even after a long All-Star break away from the day-to-day futility of being a Pacer, the motivation — and talent — is just not there.
After falling down 19 at the half, the Pacers did dust themselves off in the locker room and enter the third ready to make what we refer to around these parts as a “faux comeback.” (Hence the Tim Donahue-created, Moses Malone-inspired title for this post.)
Danny started showing why he should still be considered on of the better scorers in the league (despite his usual best efforts to be seen as rather overrated by the rest of the NBA fan base) and dropped 13 in the quarter, which surprisingly included 4 FGs that were not three-pointers. This and a pair of nice, yet unexpected, drives to the hoop from Brandon Rush and another couple of layups from Earl Watson helped cut the Hornets lead to 12 going into the fourth, giving Indy a puncher’s chance to win this thing.
And punch they did. Of course, it had all the hallmarks of a faux comeback as the Pacers, even after cutting the lead to 4 at one point, could not get the stops they needed after key buckets and couldn’t get the buckets they needed after key stops. Let’s give a bunch of credit to Mike Dunleavy who player his best offensive quarter since … since … I don’t even know. 2007 maybe. Anyway, he went 5/6 with two huge threes and a baseline layup that even had a cynical bloke like myself thinking Indy might be able to win this thing.
Alas, that obviously wasn’t going to happen.
A Granger jumper cut the deficit to just 4 with just over a minute to play, but on the next trip down, Dunleavy inexcusably let Peja Stojakovic drive right past him. The defense had to rotate to stop PEJA GODDAMN STOJAKOVIC from finishing with a layup at the hoop and the usual jump-shooting specialist turned into a play-maker, finding a wide-open David West at the top of the key. And David buried it. Of course. I mean, Chris Paul calls the guy the “17-Foot Assassin.” And Indy let Peja destroy their defense and find the guy for … wait for it … a 17-foot jumper.
Other than “Faux Comeback Ended by Key Breakdown on Critical Play of the Game” the only takeaways from this game are that Dannt had a good second half (8/12 from the floor, 1/3 from three, and 4/4 from the line) and that Junior has a pulse.
Can’t wait to do it again tonight.