Apologies for the lack of recaps/previews since the break. But after games like this and the one against Dallas, what is there to say really? The Pacers were characteristically comatose from the jump last night and the defense was nonexistent. Even though ht the threes started coming and the deficit was nearly erased by the half, Indy just didn’t have enough wherewithal on the other end to stop Chicago.
Other than that, all I got is this brief game write up I did for the Daily Dime this morning.
Luol Deng and the Bulls bum-rushed the Pacers off the tip Wednesday night. Chicago outscored Indiana 37-18 in the first quarter, seemingly putting the game away before it ever started. But it wasn’t entirely over. On the strength of long-range shooting from Brandon Rush and Danny Granger, Indiana’s offense awoke from its coma to knock down six 3-pointers in the second quarter, turning what was once a 23-point deficit into a manageable four-point hole at the half.
Might we have a ballgame on our hands? No. Not really.
Indy’s offense went right back to sleep, and Chicago began scoring just as easily as it had to start the evening. Derrick Rose and Kirk Hinrich got hot from the outside, and with no Pacers’ defense to speak of, the Bulls cruised to another 37-point quarter. After that, the rest was academic.
Indiana coach Jim O’Brien’s calling card has always been his team’s reliance on the 3-point shot, and while that is what — momentarily — got them back in this game, such accuracy has been a rare sight this year. For the season, Indiana takes 22.4 3s per night (fourth-most in the NBA) but connects on only 33.1 percent of its long-range attempts (fourth-worst in the NBA).
So while Rush, a second-year guard, knocked down five 3s, his puzzling unreliability showed up in other areas — specifically his 2-for-8 performance inside the arc, which included a head-scratching missed layup on a follow attempt in transition.
Granger’s night was much the same. He shot 4-for-8 from long range, yet only 1-for-6 on 2-point attempts. Dahntay Jones was much more aggressive, letting the others handle the 3s and getting to the line 10 times. But his 2-for-7 shooting from the field soured what was otherwise a nice offensive night for the defensive specialist.
All told, the Pacers were able to connect on only 40.9 percent of their shots. And particularly on a night when they couldn’t guard anybody, that was the ballgame.
On to the next one.
UPDATE: Tim had the following to add…
I’ve started to listen to Mark & Slick while I watch the game. They’re among the best in the business, and they’re usually good for a few good comments a game.
When AJ Price came into the game last night, there was this little exchange:
Mark: “AJ Price in the game for the first time, replacing Earl Watson. He’ll join TJ in the back court.”
Slick: “But they’re playing him at shooting guard.”
(The play continues for a few seconds, before Derrick Rose scores and is fouled. Mark does all of the play-by-play and Slick is silent. Then, during the pause as the line up for the free throw:)
Slick (in a very slow, deliberate voice): “AJ Price is not a shooting guard. He. Is. A. Point. Guard. He sees the floor better than anybody on the team.
Mark: “Yeah, but at this point, I’m just happy to see him out there at all.”
Slick: “He’s out there (mumble, mumble, mumble)”