Pacers 94, Magic 80: Pacers Wear Out Magic
On Monday night in LA, the Pacers saw firsthand how to take out a tired team finishing up a six game road trip. Just as the Lakers appeared a step quicker all night in dominating the Pacers two nights earlier, the Pacers were energized early and killed the will of the Magic by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, ending with a 95-80 win. Another reminder that after you strip away the exorbitant salaries, individual physical skills, and bright lights of media coverage, the NBA is still played by human beings. They can have day-to-day swings in the health of body and mind, just like the rest of us. Other observations from tonight:
- High energy and effort were the themes of the night for the Pacers. Jeff Foster's play seemed to spark the team as he was relentless on the glass, finishing with 18 boards.
- JO didn't have a huge night but played great defense and ended up with 11pts, 11rebs. He did have an epic battle with Bo Outlaw in the fourth quarter, though. The Pacers were up by 18 and Outlaw made it his mission to get under the skin of JO. He was like the guy at the Y who starts full court pressure on his man during a pick up game. Outlaw fought every move JO made to establish post position. After not getting the ball a few times, JO turned his attention to trying to draw a foul on Outlaw. At this point, Bo has officially taken JO out of the game. He even drew and offensive foul on JO as he tried shove/flop his way to a foul call. I found it quite entertaining. Mind you, while this was going on the rest of the Pacers continued to maintain the comfortable lead.
- Stephen Jackson and Al Harrington threw up a pair of 26 point performances on nice shooting nights. Jack spent the morning in court, appearing for his pre-trial hearing on the Club Rio charges. The actual trial date was moved to February 12th and appears that it will be moved again at that time. Here is the story from court.
- Just as I was getting used to the Big Thirst's mohawk, he came out clean shaven tonight. I imagine after enduring a three game losing streak, Al figured it was time for a fresh start. Since he played well and shot incredibly well for the duration of the roadie, Al's quest for a fresh start was all about getting a W.
- Saras has played well lately and don't throw his box score lines at me to try to convince me otherwise. Tonight his body language and effort exuded confidence. He looks more comfortable, making definitive moves as if he is just playing the game, as opposed to trying to think and play at the same time. In the second half, he pushed the break and one time threw a gorgeous 2/3 court pass that Al caught right at the hoop for an easy lay up. The ball arched perfectly over the fully extended, jumping reach of Carlos Arroyo. Great stuff.
- The Pacers have an off day at home to celebrate Larry Joe Legend's 50th birthday. Then Portland comes to town Friday night as the 10-10 Pacers try to move past .500, again.
(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)