Friday, November 17, 2006

Nets 100, Pacers 91: Signs of Life

The Pacers lost their third straight game tonight to the Nets, 100-91. They'll take no solace in knowing the game was much closer than the final score indicates. But, as an observer of this blue and gold work-in-progress, it was nice to see some grit from the home team tonight.

Vince Carter came out smoking hot, throwing in buckets from all angles while the Pacers had trouble getting their shots to fall. The Nets controlled the action until early in the 3rd quarter when the Pacers followed JO's lead (seriously) and started making some shots. The game remained back and forth the rest of the way until the Pacers came up empty down the stretch and the Nets pulled away at the line. More observations from the game:
  • The Pacers have been great from the charity stripe this year, but free throw misses cost them tonight. The Nets were 26-30 from the line while the Pacers were only 9-15. With 3s, rebounds, and turnovers all about even that stat is glaring.

  • The new ball is comical sometimes. On the Nets first hoop, Jason Collins fired a major league brick from the top of the key that landed where the back iron and glass meed. Instead of clanging off the hoop, the ball died like a Tiger Woods nine iron shot hitting the green and dropped in the hoop. I'd love to see a YouTube collection of all of the peculiar rim bounces this year.

  • I had to chuckle when Uncle Cliffy Robinson entered the game and promptly hit a 3-ball. He's been doing it forever!

  • Jason Kidd gets it done in so many ways. He didn't have eye popping numbers tonight but he is everywhere on the court. For example, there is no stat for this but at one point Marquis Daniels tracked down a loose ball but Kidd ran in his way so he couldn't dribble and ended up travelling. Ball to the Nets.

  • One thing the two previous losses confirmed is that the Pacers need production from the bench to win and play well. Marquis Daniels, Darrell Armstrong, and Jeff Foster gave nice production tonight and factored into the Pacers being in position to win with 2 minutes to go. Unfortunately, DA was only able to play six minutes because he's still nursing an injury.

  • With Jack's shooting struggles continuing, Daniels played most of the second half and did a little bit of everything. If Carlisle is trying to find the right combination of players there were a couple of good ones out there in the second half and they both included Daniels.

  • JO put up 0 points in the first half, but I have to give him credit for coming out aggressive in the second half and setting the tone for the team to battle the Nets the rest of the way. It seemed like once he hit a few shots, other Pacer shots started to fall and the team found a rhythm. I've heard of individual streak shooters but it seems like this team as a unit is streaky.

  • Danny Granger had some great defensive plays tonight including a couple of blocks on Vince Carter as he drove to the bucket.

  • The Pacers didn't have a go-to guy to rely on down the stretch as the Nets relied on Kidd and Carter. From the 2:30 mark in the 4th quarter with the game still tight, JO missed scoring opportunities on two consecutive trips. From that point, good defensive stops were nullified by silly turnovers and the game was over in a blink.

The Pacers are now 4-5 and still searching for that consistent groove. At least they showed some effort and fight in the loss tonight. They need to keep scrapping as they head up to Milwaukee for a game tomorrow night against the Bucks.

(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

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