It’s nice to see Indiana win another ugly game. It really now feels like they should beat any team aside from perhaps the true NBA elite at home. A mediocre team like the Bobcats shows up to Conseco, and the Pacers simply prove they are better with a 100-92 win.
Not only that, they reinforced the notion that it’s really hard to shoot well against them by holding Charlotte to 41.4% shooting, including a dreadful 3-for-17 (17.6%) from behind the arc. Like the loss in Milwaukee, however, the Pacers did not take care of the glass, giving up 16 offensive rebounds to the Bobcats (9 of which were hauled in by Boris Diaw and Gerald Wallace). They need to work on that. Josh McRoberts in particular seems to always be on the court when the other team is getting second-chance points. That’s concerning. (And it’s something we’ll delve into more soon. Stay tuned.)
But getting back to positive news, the whole team shot very well from three, sticking 13 of their 31 attempts. Brandon Rush (4/8), James Posey (3/6), Mike Dunleavy (3/6) and McRoberts (2/4) all hit 50% of their long-range tries.
Against such a weak front line, you would also have liked to see the team pound it inside to Roy Hibbert more. He did make 6 of 11 shots, but the fact that he only earned a single free-throw attempt is disheartening. Still, on a night when he dropped he had 14 boards, 6 assists and 3 blocks to go along with his 13 points, we can forgive such a venial sin. The big guy played well. One assist in particular stood out. He was drifting across the lane and caught a pass while off-balance. Then, as soon as he gathered the ball, he left a pretty little drop-off pass to a cutting Darren Collison who finished in the paint. It was lovely. (DC, meanwhile, had 7 assists of his own — the most he has recorded since an 11/23 win over the Cavaliers.)
We can’t just totally gloss over the the issue of not getting to the free-throw line team-wide, however. Tonight, the D was strong and the threes were raining. But at least that second factor is not always reliable. If Posey and Dunleavy don’t hit two big threes late in the fourth quarter, the Bobcats might very well have turned this into a game that could have been a toss-up in the final minute.
Had the Pacers gotten to the line more than 18 times throughout the contest, however, they could have used some free points to extend the margin. These are the little differences between being an average team and a good team. The Pacers really are starting to look like a good team.
But if they could find a way to get to the line once in a while, it would go a long way towards instilling some real confidence — in me, in the rest of the NBA outlookers and in the team itself — that they truly can beat any team on any night even if they don’t play at their absolute best.
Something to work on.