Pacers 105, Blazers 97: Finding the Right Combinations
The Pacers shook up their starting lineup against the Blazers and for one night at least, seemed to find some playing rotations that worked in a 105-97 win. Stephen Jackson returned to the starting lineup and Jeff Foster started at Center ending the "Al Harrington can hold down the Center spot" experiment. Danny Granger came off the bench for his most productive night of the year. Saras played well, actually hitting some shots without hesitation and Darrell Armstrong offered his now expected energetic boost off the bench.
This win is somewhat perplexing when you look at the box score. How often does a team make less free throws (POR:25, IND:20), get drastically out rebounded (POR:47, IND:34) including giving up 21 offensive rebounds, and turn the ball over more (POR:10, IND:13) yet still win the game? Usually these are key indicators for a W or L, but the only stat that mattered last night was FG%. The Pacers made more shots and scored more points. Yep, I guess that's the most reliable indicator of a W. As is the case with this Pacers team, it is better to just enjoy the Ws than try to figure out how they happened. Couple of other notes:
- JO limped off the court with a turned ankle in the third quarter but was able to re-tape the ankle and return for the fourth quarter. He once again delivered a game worthy of a franchise player, making his way back to the court and finishing with 20pts, 8rebs, 6asst, 5blks. No if he can stay healthy and let his game do the talking we might be on to something.
- Zach Randolph, of Marion, IN fame, is a beast for the Blazers. He is both aggressive and crafty when it comes to scoring and rebounding. Because of his off court reputation in high school, Randolph lost out on the 2000 Indiana Mr. Basketball award to Jared Jeffries. I'll always remember watching the two hook up in the State Finals that year. Randolph flat out dominated Jeffries who I thought actually shrunk to the challenge. From the tip Randolph was pounding it inside and quick to rebounds while Jeffries seemed jittery, dribbling the ball off his foot or travelling. Sean May was a 6-7 sophomore on Jeffries team, too, so Randolph had him to contend with but he would not be denied. I saw some of that spark last night and thought how that high school game kind of foretold the future of the two players.
- The Pacers jumped back over .500 and head south to take on a Golden State team tonight that is playing well. Let's hope the Ps bring their effort and shooting touch from Portland.