In desperate need of a win to hold on to their current, but tenuous, playoff position, the Pacers simply got the job done. Indiana got off to a quick start. Darren Collison was given an early seat after earning two fouls, but great ball movement led to Pacer assists on their first 6 baskets before Lance Stephenson finally knocked down an open jumper in isolation after an Iverson-esque crossover.
Unfortunately for Indiana, after they got out to comfortable lead in the second quarter, the Warriors surged. Golden States turned a double-digit deficit into a 9-point advantage with a 21-1 run before Brandon Rush hit a three to end an Indiana drought that seemingly started during the Cretaceous Period. Overall, Rush played a solid game with a few much-needed shots and well-timed defensive plays when his team needed it most.
When they had a chance to pull away early, the Pacers’ performance throughout the middle of the game was like Stephen Curry’s beard: something was just missing. But just when it looked like we might see a meltdown, the Pacers righted the ship in the third quarter. After going into the locker room down 3, the Pacers outscored the Warriors 37-25 in the period and were in control, entering the fourth with a 9-point lead.
A flurry of Fancy Paul George Moments (hereafter referred to as FPGMs) helped to keep the Warriors at bay despite a barrage of long-range jumpers, and the Pacers relied again on their stars to anchor. Danny Granger accounted for 10 points in the final five minutes, including going 8-for-8 from the stripe. (For the game, he was a super-impressive 16/16 from the line. This was his first time getting to the line 16 times since January 3, 2009.)
Golden State kept shooting, but when the NBA’s leading three-point shooter, Dorell Wright, missed a three, the game was over.
Coming off consecutive losses and staring down a three-game Texas road trip (OKC counts as Texas just as Canada counts as part of the United States), Indiana desperately needed a win. It’s been four seasons since the Pacers made the playoffs.
The road back will require many nights of just getting the job done. That’s what happened tonight and it should put the players in a much better frame of mind as they head out of the road — where they play 11 of their next 15 games.
- Most people in Indiana remember Golden State head coach Keith Smart for his game-winning shot in the 1987 NCAA title game, but I was a fetus then. I’ll never forget the legendary day in Fort Wayne when he became the CBA’s all-time leading scorer
- Say what you will about his legal missteps or the graduation rate of his college choice, but no one gets in the lane and misses a point-blank shot quicker than Lance Stephenson.