I went to watch Liam Neeson fight wolves last night and, I must, say, they looked a lot tougher than these ones from Minnesota. Moreover, by besting the Timberwolves 109-99 in Minnesota — without even fashioning Freddy Kruger claws out of mini liquor bottles — Indiana improved to 9-5 (.643) on the road this season. There is only one NBA team that has won on the road at a better clip: the Oklahoma City Thunder (with the Chicago Bulls being Indy’s equal).
The Pacers were dominant defensively in the first two quarters, holding the Wolves to a staggering 31.9% on 15-for-47 shooting. They couldn’t capitalize and create any real separation, however, as they only shot 41.9% themselves, turned the ball over 9 times, gave up 7 offensive boards and lost the FTA battle (only 10 vs. 13, but still). They went to the locker room up 45-41. The bench was again miserable (3-for-10 shooting) and Danny Granger couldn’t hit anything (2-for-8).
But things soon turned around for the team — and especially for Granger — in the second half. Danny started getting to the line, getting to the rack and sticking threes to put the Pacers up by as many as 10 late in the third quarter.
Then things got really interesting.
After Granger grabbed an offensive board, Kevin Love grabbed his shoulder and, seemingly because he was off-balance, sorta yanked Danny backwards. Mr. Granger was none too pleased and got right in Love’s face, hooting, hollering, mean-mugging and even putting his hands up into Kevin’s torso with a little push. Despite Michael Beasley rushing over, cooler heads prevailed and the only fallout was a technical foul for Danny. Granger got some free throws of his own for the foul on Love and calmly knocked down his 16th and 17th points of the quarter to keep his team up 8.
The lead ballooned up to 14 in the fourth. The Wolves managed one last run to bring it close but, as it turned out, their bark was … worse than their bite. I’ll be here all week. No seriously. The Pacers play, like, seven games in the next three days. See what this compressed schedule is doing to us bloggers? Did you read that “joke”?
|David West - 24 MIN | 5-14 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 12 PTS |
Another uneventful game for West, who sat most of the 2nd half. He was 4-for-9 at the half but only made 1 more of the 5 shots he took afterward. Get excited. Still, near double-double in limited time.
|Danny Granger - 41 MIN | 9-19 FG | 13-15 FT | 7 REB | 36 PTS |
Best game he’s played this year and I can’t recall the last time he played better. Point total speaks for itself but 15 FTAs is the real story. Had 29 in the second half and got downright ornery after a near-scuffle with Love that earned Danny a tech.
|Roy Hibbert - 35 MIN | 6-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 9 REB | 15 PTS |
You know this guy has become a true force when he finishes with 15 and 9 on 6-for-9 and 3 blocks and I’m like “Oh, yeah, I guess he was a little more unstoppable than normal.”
|Darren Collison - 33 MIN | 7-12 FG | 5-5 FT | 6 REB | 9 AST | 20 PTS |
Overshadowed by Granger’s excellence/theatrics but perhaps the best statistical game he’s played in a Pacer uniform. More importantly, he owns this team at this point. So much good decision-making all game.
|Paul George, SG 19 MIN | 4-6 FG | 4 REB | 1 AST | 10 PTS |
Was in foul trouble a lot of the night but played fine when he was in there. Didn’t really need him though.
|Dahntay Jones – 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 1 REB | 1 AST | 4 PTS |
|Louis Amundson - 10 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-4 FT | 2 REB | 3 PTS |
He had much more effect on this game than the numbers show. Just mucked everything up in a good way and got two offensive boards in succession when the Pacers were pulling away.
|A.J. Price - 15 MIN | 1-7 FG | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 PTS |
|Tyler Hansbrough - 27 MIN | 3-8 FG | 5 REB | 2 AST | 7 PTS |
Pissed off Love more than anything else and it looked like all the bumping, shoving, pushing and general annoyance — which West started and Roy and Lou helped with — took Kevin out of his rhythm at times.
|Lance Stephenson - 15 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 PTS |
Also wasn’t good.
* This recap was edited to reflect Granger’s accurate 3rd quarter point total. I counted wrong before. It also was changed to reflect that the Bulls, unbeknownst to me, and ESPN’s standings page, lost in Philly last night.