Indiana Pacers 122 – Utah Jazz 106
Obviously, a lot of Pacers fans don’t like to see all these late-season, (probable) draft-pick-lowering wins. But, come on, every Pacer fan had to enjoy this one.
Down 12 in the middle of the third quarter, the Pacers flipped the switch. I honestly have no idea how, considering how well Utah has been playing for most of March (they had won 9 of their last 12 coming into the game) and how well they had been player even earlier in this match-up. Deron, Boozer, Okur and even Wesley Matthews were all been playing well.
Then the Pacers took over and, as Tim put it, “just peeled back the top of Utah’s skull for the last 17 minutes or so.”
A driving lay-up by AJ Price and steal of the ensuing in-bounds pass seemed to get things going. The theft didn’t directly lead to points as AJ passed off to Brandon Rush, who dribbled around awkwardly before finding McRoberts in the post for a missed turnaround. But it seemed to be the catalyst for the Pacers onslaught.
Soon after, Indy came out of a timeout and Danny Granger went hard to the hold, getting himself to the line for some easy points. Josh McRoberts adeptly swiped the ball from Boozer on the next defensive possession, and the Pacers were back on the attack. AJ went to the hole aggressively, but still had his head up to find Roy on a dump off. Hibbert missed the finish, but got to the line anyway. On the other end, Granger just straight took the the ball from CJ Miles more easily than that guy in the hoodie stole Tim’s gun in last week’s episode of Life & Times of Tim and got back to the line when CJ fouled him in frustration. (I would have been frustrated and embarrassed as well if I had my lunch money taken like that.) After another Pacers stop, AJ stuck a wide open trey. Then McRoberts got another steal. Then AJ found himself open for another jumper out of it, but missed.
Still, the floodgates were open.
Josh swatted the bejesus out of a Jazz attempt from the paint on the next trip down, which he followed up with an offensive board and nice little sweeping jump hook putback of offense. The Pacers were beyond that “we smell blood in the water” part of the run. A full-on shark attack was in progress..
The degree to which Indiana could do no wrong was best displayed when Hibbert made a mid-post move and hit a jumper with the shot clock running out. I feel like the Pacers have missed end-of-the-shot clock attempts to an almost-impossible-from-a-mere-probability-standpoint level all year. Really, it’s been uncanny. They just never get those “terrible possession saved by a made low-percentage shot” bailouts that other teams seem to get like six times per game and Jamal Crawford makes in his sleep.
But Hibbert made this one.
And got fouled to make it a three-point play.
By the time McRoberts (whose third quarter in this one was easily one of the top 10 quarters any Pacer has had this year) was dunking on the Pacers’ last possession of the third, it really seemed like the Pacers had taken over. They were only up 5, but it truly felt like Indy was the better team. And that other team was the Jazz, who are, oh-by-the-way, quite possibly on their way to a number two seed in the Western Conference playoffs.
Danny put the punctuation on the ass-kicking. He started the fourth with a “BOOM. ROASTED” four-point play and never looked back on his way to a career-high 44 points (on 14/23 shooting and 11/15 from the line). Everything that Pacer diehards have come to love about Danny when he plays as his peak was on display for the final period, as he dropped 14 points on 6/8 shooting, snatched 6 boards and doled out 2 assists. That 2 number doesn’t even tell how well he was facilitating the offense, however. He was doing great stuff with the dribble almost every time he touched the ball, forcing the defense to react to his movement and then either doing something productive himself of whipping the rock over to someone in a good percentage to make a move.
It was perhaps his best game of the year. (And we’ll get into this in even more depth tomorrow on Monday.)
The only thing left to say about the game came from one of the a Jazz broadcasters: “The jazz are being run out of the building.”
Yes. Yes they were.
Some other notes:
- Brandon Rush is being much more active off the bounce of late. We saw it all game long from him here, and even though it didn’t always lead to points (in the first half alone, a kick-out resulted in a missed jumper, he missed a lay-up and was once forced to pull it back out after Korver recover), attacking off the dribble is a great thing. It’s like making a 70% play in Texas Hold ‘Em poker. You’re still going to lose the hand 30% of the time, which is a lot, but it is still a good move. Lately, Brandon is doing things that more often than not help lead to points. Sure, it took him 60 games to start doing much on offense aside from make wide-open jumpers (and as we saw on the last play of the first half, he still has a long way to go before he can become a guy that you want to give the ball, too), but better late than never.
- Earl Watson got absolutely clocked right after half time when Deron Williams ripped the ball across his body on a drive attempt and caught Earl with an elbow to the nose/mouth. Blood spewed, and play stopped for a minute before Watson had to head to the bench with a towel sopping up the drippings. He returned later, so no worries, but that sure did look like it hurt. He’s been great on the court of late (as Indy Cornrows details very well here and also gets into somewhat here as well), and it was excellent to see him shake off this blow to get back out there.
- With about 7:30 to go in the 3rd quarter, the Conseco DJ played the Chicken Dance song, clearly in an attempt to get Deron to forget that he was supposed to be running the offense and once again bust a move.
- Roy protected the rim very well in the fourth, unleashing a two-handed block that would have made Karch Kiraly stand up and cheer. He followed that up soon thereafter with a layup-altering challenge of a Deron Williams attempt that turned a nice drive from the point guard from a would-be bucket into a desperate heave at the rim.
- A Jazz announcer said this about Josh McRoberts: “He’s a hard-nosed player. I guess anyone who wears his socks up that high is.” I subsequently chuckled.