Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pacers 108, Warriors 106: Jack in the Role of Big Shot Bob

The Pacers pushed their record to two games over .500 with a wild win on the road at Golden State, 108, 106. Stephen Jackson assumed the role of Big Shot Bob Horry with a dash of Reggie, to hit a game winning 3-ball with one second left. With the Warriors up one, it appeared they had a one point win when Danny Granger missed a shot for the lead and Baron Davis swatted it away to burn out the clock. In the first bit of luck (or so it seems) the Pacers have had in a long time, the ball went right to Jack who promptly drained the game winner with one second left. Since he was wearing a Pacer uniform, the shot immediately evoked memories of Reggie Miller's frequent late game heroics, but the play really played out like Robert Horry's dagger three to kill the Sacramento King's will in the 2002 Western Conference Finals. Pretty easy to savor this W, as the Pacers go to 2-1 on the current six game road trip (9-7 overall). A few other thoughts:
  • Playing back-to-back games after a hot shooting night in Portland, the Pacers had to keep pace with the Nellie-ball Warriors. The hot shooting did not continue, but with the pace of play last night, quantity not quality mattered more. The Pacers launched 94 shots including 22 3-balls.

  • Per usual in a Warriors game, the box score is fun to look at after the game. JO and Foster had double-doubles. Tinsley was my FLoN with 23, 8, and8. Big Thirst took a drink from behind the arc, with 6 threes included in his 28 points.

  • The Pacers started the game well again last night. Jeff Foster was particularly active early scrapping for loose balls and rebounds and scoring some nice garbage points on put backs to get the Ps off to a good start.

  • Surprisingly on the back-to-back, the starters played heavy minutes, so the Pacers didn't get much production from their bench. It wasn't needed since the starters scored 95 points and now will have a day off to rest.

  • The road trip continues as the Pacers head back to the Northwest for a game with the Supes on Friday night.

(Photo: Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/29/06

Jamaal Tinsley and Baron Davis got theirs in a duel at Golden State. As alway, to the victor go the spoils. Finally, a Pacer earns the FLoN.

Jamaal Tinsley2388042

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

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.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/28/06

Michael Redd stole the spotlight from Kobe last night as the Bucks took one from the Lakers. Honorable mention goes to Camelo Anthony for another huge night, albeit in a Nugg's loss.

Michael Redd4585145

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Story Time with Coach Carlisle

Rick Carlisle has developed a reputation in the NBA as a demanding, no nonsense head coach that seems to lack emotion or empathy for his players when the going gets tough. We've heard how he's a control freak, not willing to alter his philosophy about offensive sets or playing rotations. Most of this stigma surfaced when the Pistons were scrounging around for reasons to fire their successful (back-to-back 50 win seasons) coach in order to hire Larry Brown after the '02-'03 season.

I've always simply pegged Carlisle as a straight shooter, laying out the facts as he sees them without regard to others' opinion (not unlike his boss/friend, Larry Joe Legend). This may be misinterpreted as arrogance or indifference by some media members and fans who are accustomed to hearing more delicate, positive spin from coaches around the league.

While he rarely offers spin about the Pacers he can spin a pretty good story or two from his past. This month, Indy Men's Magazine published an interview with Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle that offers insight into Rick Carlisle the head coach, former player, husband, father, musician, and Deadhead.

Unfortunately, the whole interview is only available in the print copy of IMM that can be found in most stores and newsstands around Central Indiana for free. The magazine is kind of a GQ/Esquire for men with money to burn (or dreams of earning money to burn) in Indy. Usually a great read with plenty of entertainment (no, I don't know anyone at the magazine). Since you may not have access to IMM, I want to share a couple of stories that made me laugh while reading.

On his days with the championship Celtics:

IMM: You began your pro career with the Celtics and won an NBA championship as a player in 1986. I'm sure you've got some stories.
RC: There are a lot of stories. But the one that stands out is one from my first year. It was March...I hadn't got in a game in about two and half weeks. At the end of the third quarter, K.C. Jones comes down the end of the bench and says, "You got Danny." Meaning I'm in for Danny Ainge. So I go squeeze into the huddle at the quarter, and I'm sitting next to the guys who are in the game. K.C. takes out his dry-erase board and starts designing a play. He says, "Dennis, you've got the ball right here." He makes a D and a circle. "Kevin, you're here. Robert, you're here. Larry, you're here." And he looks at me and he goes, "Uh...right here" and he puts a scribble mark. For everyone else, he had put an initial. So we stand up after the timeout and, Larry goes, "K.C., I want you to meet Rick. He's been with us for six months. Rick, this is K.C." I laughed and everybody laughed, and I went into the game and played pretty well. I hit a shot. Played for about six minutes. But that was typical: The coach didn't know my name. That's a story I always hark back to."

After some questions about his piano playing and musical influences, Carlisle mentions spending time around the Grateful Dead thanks to Bill Walton which leads to the next story:

IMM: What's your favorite Dead song?
RC: "New Minglewood Blues." I also love "Jack Straw." My wife and I had our first date at a Dead show in 1987 at the Capital Centre. During the intermission we went back and sat in a room with Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir and Mickey Hart and just shot the s*#%. It was a phenomenal first date, let's put it that way.
The interview also covers Carlisle's thoughts on coaching, his relationship with key players, and the current NBA. It is obvious he is cognizant of his rep and through his answers you can tell he's taking steps to address some of the areas where his public image may be misunderstood. The Pacers have been a PR nightmare for the past couple of years so this interview offered Carlisle a chance to speak to skeptical fans with a smile on his face.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/27/06

The Heat-Sixers game was simply D-Wade vs. AI. Wade's huge night led the Heat to a win so he gets the honor. But, please stop and recognize Iverson for lobbing up 37 FG attempts to score 45 points. That Dominique-esque effort must be appreciated.

Dwyane Wade33713210

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/26/06

Melo and the Nuggs continued their winning ways beating the Clips, 103- 88.

Carmelo Anthony3356040

Raptors 92, Pacers 83: Rocky Start to Road Trip

Another terrible start by the Pacers was too much to overcome today against the Raptors. After falling behind by 27 points in the first half, the Pacers rallied to within four points in the third quarter before running out of steam (and made shots) to lose, 92-83. I discussed today's game on a podcast with Click here to listen to the Raps Recap.
(Photo: NBAE/Getty Images)

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/25/06

Nice to be back home again in Indiana. I owe D-Wade one and he earned it tonight in the Heat win. He only filled up the big three stats tonight but fill 'em up he did.

Dwyane Wade35612000

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/24/06

Seems like a Heat loss and a eye-popping night from another player has kept D-Wade from this honor several times. Tonight is no exception as Allen Iverson did the eye-popping.

Allen Iverson46510120

Pacers 97, Cavaliers 87: Can't Spell LeBron without an L

The Pacers handed the Central Division leading Cavs and LeBron James a big L at Conseco Fieldhouse tonight, 97-87. I'm still sequestered in the land of giant Supersonics, so my impressions of the game come from the box score and this recap.

A few quick observations reveal an ugly start by the Pacers with only a 12-point first quarter leading to a 13-point deficit at the half. The script was flipped in the second half as the Cavs only mustered up 9 points in the third quarter. Doesn't sound like an instant classic, but as I've said before, every W for the Pacers has its own beautiful aspects and should be celebrated by all Pacers fans.

It appears that Jack finally let out a little steam and was T'd up. I'm sure the home faithful let him hear about it. Many of the haters have built up a reserve of venom they've been dying to unleash on Jack but he hasn't given them the opportunity until tonight. Hope they enjoyed it.

Looks like the heroes in blue and gold tonight were JO and Jamaal Tinsley. JO is delivering in a huge way. Since the blow up in Boston, he has put his nose to the grindstone and carried this team. JT must get credit, too. He's played quite well the past four games and teamed up with JO to be the 1-2 punch that knocked out the Cavs.

The Pacers go to 7-6 with a day off to pack before heading out for a six-game roadie starting in Toronto. Keep and eye and ear out for a post game recap of the Raptors game with

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/22/06

There were some nice lines around the NBA tonight, but since I'm in Seattle I'll go with a Supe. Rashard Lewis lit up the Clips for the Sonics second straight win. Must mention other big games by Carlos Boozer in a win for the sizzling Jazz, and a nice triple-double from Andre Iguodala in an AI-less loss for the Sixers.

Rashard Lewis35131013

Magic 96, Pacers 91: Team Even Steven

The Pacers dropped back to an even 6-6 on the year with a 96-91 loss at Orlando tonight. Here is the AP recap of the game.

When I left my sister's house for a family dinner, the Pacers were up six at the half. Jamaal Tinsley and JO were lighting it up and a solid road effort was well within grasp. With no access to any NBA information at dinner, I occasionally let my mind wander to consider this game a W. Three in a row and this one against a tough Eastern Conference foe on the road. It is early, but this win would put the Pacers in the rarefied air of two or more games over .500 in the East. Man, did I enjoy my dinner.

Reality hit hard when I came home to find out the Pacers couldn't get the ball in the basket in the second half, shooting 13-40 from the field. At least they scrapped and battled to the end despite the drastic turn of events. The Pacers have Thanksgiving off before hosting the Central Division leading LeBrons on Friday night. Huge! Huge game!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/21/06

Dirk did it all last night for Dallas in a convincing win over the Wiz.

Dirk Nowitzki30145212

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Pacers 93, Bucks 88: Must Enjoy the Ws

The Pacers finished playing eight straight, hard fought quarters of basketball against the Milwaukee Bucks dating back to last Saturday night. Since both games were so tightly contested a split of the wins would only seem fair. But the NBA, like life, isn't fair, and the Pacers found a way to earn their second win in the back-to-back games with the Bucks tonight, 93-88.

Here is the AP recap of the game. From reading the story and looking at the box score it appears JO came through like a max contract, franchise player. The Bucks were offering 3-balls cheap with their zone defense and the Pacers made them look smart, shooting 7-24 from way downtown. But with defense and timely shooting down the stretch, the Pacers pulled ahead when it counted, making this, like all Ws, one to savor.

The Pacers are 6-5 and go to Orlando for their second game this year against the Magic. The Pacers won the first meeting at Conseco, 93-83. That was one of five Ws this year that have not been by the book, pretty, or easy. But if anything is starting to develop with this young team it is that they are going to do what they can to stay in a game even when they're not playing well. And once they are within reach in the fourth quarter, they're going for the win. It is hard to explain a few of the wins this year by looking at the numbers, but in the end all 6 Ws sparkle and shine just the same in that win column.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/20/06

Seems like once a week the young buck from Orlando makes me do a double-double double take when scanning the boxes. Last night was the night for Dwight Howard.

Dwight Howard24231110

Monday, November 20, 2006

Jack OK Taking a Back Seat

Checking in from Seattle. You'll find this hard to believe but it is raining. To be fair, it was nice and sunny earlier in the day, but not so much now. I'm taking a break to check on my Pacers.

Mike Wells has a story today on Stephen Jackson taking a more limited role in the near future while his wrist continues to heal. Jack initially injured the wrist after being hit by a car in case you hadn't heard.

Jack is an easy target for so many reasons and this year the haters have been on him because of his poor shooting. But give credit to Jack for playing the game right so far this year. He's battled on defense, done what was ask of him, and been a great teammate. Often, when on the bench, he's been on his feet leading the cheers. I'm rely on actions over words and Jack has shown me enough to stand by him now.

The words of a great teammate are icing when linked to actions and this article included a great quote from Jack regarding Carlisle mention that he wants Jack back in the starting lineup when he's fully healthy.

"It feels good that coach has faith in me," he said. "But if it ain't broke don't fix it. I'm with it if we can get on a roll and keep it like this. If we're winning, I'm with it."
A perfect Jackism if there ever was one.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/19/06

Not much to chose from last night so the steady play of Tim Duncan is an easy pick.

Tim Duncan35143120

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cornrows Roadie

I am taking the family out to Supersonics country today to visit my mother and sister for the week of Thanksgiving. Blogging will be lighter than usual.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/18/06

Lot's of big numbers to choose from in this subjective exercise. Look at these big nights from D-Wade, Melo, and TJ Ford all in Ws for their respective teams. However, my affinity for the 3-ball puts Gilbert Arenas back in the FLN box as he leads the Wiz past his nemesis from Cleveland.

Gilbert Arenas4556027

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pacers 102, Bucks 100: W Earned the Hard Way

The Pacers were smiling after a long, strange trip to Milwaukee ended with a win, 102-100. Fortunately, they don't give style points for Ws in the NBA because this one wasn't flashy. But what the Pacers lacked in style they made up for in grit and heart.
The Pacers were forced to shake up their starting line up against the Bucks and were ambushed right out of the gate. Al Harrington's back flared up causing him to miss the game, so Jeff Foster started the game at Center. Marquis Daniels' solid play last night and Jack's nagging hand issues had them swap roles. They actually seemed to take that literally as 'Quis struggled shooting and Jack seemed to find his stroke coming off the bench. Jack played the bulk of the second half minutes hitting some big shots and playing solid defense.

As a whole the Pacers shot poorly (AGAIN!) and had to rely on every other facet of the game to scrap and claw their way back into the game after falling behind by as much as 17 in the first half. Ironically, with so many errant shots, the Pacers rode the 3-ball success of Stephen Jackson and Danny Granger in the second half to take over the lead. JO continued his shooting struggles but made up for it on defense hitting the boards and blocking 8 shots! To his credit he had a strong move for a bucket with under two minutes to play to help the Pacers hang on in the end.

Several reserves stepped in and played a roll in digging out from the early deficit. Now with a couple of days off, the Pacers can catch their breath at 5-5 and get ready to face these same Bucks at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/17/06

Ho hum. Just another day at the office for LeBron as he carries the Cavs past the T-wolves.

LeBron James3769212

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)

JO Drama Carries into Pacers-Nets Game

Mike Wells has a follow-up story in today's Star on JO's post-game chat with the Pacers' coaches and Larry Joe Legend. Predictably, JO spun the sitaution as him not being able to control how much he cares about the team and wanting to win.

"When you expect to win and you don't, and get beat the way we got beat, you're going to be a little bit more emotional," O'Neal said. "Maybe our conversation should have waited until (Thursday), until things calmed down a little bit. . . . In order to achieve the goal we want to achieve, you have to be willing to state your opinion. Whether you agree or not, at the end of the day you have to figure it out. At the end of the day we agreed things need to be altered a little bit in our approach and we walked away from it."

MAYBE the conversation should've waited? It definitely should've waited because whatever good intentions JO had regarding his opinion, marching past reporters in your uniform to the coaches office was the move of a drama queen. Reporters LOVE drama, so now it is a story around the league.

This story on Larry Bird in the Boston Herald mentions the incident as the writer witnessed the same thing as Mike Wells.

SI has a story posted about changes in store for the Pacers.

The shining light on the Pacers because of the post-game talk initiated by JO just blows the situation out of proportion and makes things seem worse than they really are. The Pacers are not shooting well from the floor and are struggling with rebounds. JO shot 3-14 against the Celts and wants to go down in the post more now. Fine, that's a pretty easy fix. Just fix it on the floor.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/16/06

Whoa! The stat line for Baron Davis just jumps off the page.

Baron Davis

Thursday, November 16, 2006

JO Flashes Frustration

The Pacers officially hit their first patch of adversity last night in Boston, dropping their second game in a row while being outplayed and outworked. So, what happens when the going gets tough? Well, the Pacers' tough guy starts deflecting the blame. Instead of taking his frustrations to a mirror for a good look, JO went to the coach's office for a closed door discussion with Carlisle and Larry Joe Legend. According to Mike Wells in the Indy Star, the discussion escalated to shouting that could be heard in the hallway. Fortunately, JO didn't discuss the meeting after leaving the office. Mr. Wells has an update on the situation over at the Pacer Insider blog and doesn't seem to be minimizing the issue.

So, here we are again with plenty of talk from JO about leadership, yet left with his actions to prove he's not yet up to the task. When the team is winning and playing well, it is easy to share the ball and run over to help a teammate up off the floor. But, champions are able to dig down and lead their team through adversity. JO is a max contract guy. He's the franchise player, which he boasts of proudly. He can't be pouring gas on a flamable situation. I mean we're talking about three really bad quarters of play from the past two losses. Step back and analyze the situation and figure out a way to be part of the solution. And, please, stop talking about it.
(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/15/06

Mike Bibby deserves mention for his effort in the Kings' win over the Griz, but let's take a moment to recognize Jason Kidd. Again, last night, he dropped nice numbers in all of the stat buckets. I shudder to think what is coming when the Nets visit the Pacers on Friday.

Jason Kidd

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Celtics 114, Pacers 88: Laugher for the C's

The Pacers gave Doc Rivers a big bucket of ice water to sit in, as much of New England was calling for his firing heading into tonight's game. You can judge for yourself what Doc's status is over at CelticsBlog.

As for the Pacers, pretend like you watched the 4th quarter of the Bulls game last Saturday only it lasted twice as long and the Bulls were wearing Celtics across their chest. After blowing a big early lead the other night against Cleveland, the C's waited until halftime to extend the lead and outscored the Pacers 67-43 after the half. Yikes! The Pacers combined poor to horrific shooting with a lousy effort on the glass to give the Celtics a nice, easy win. The blue and gold shot 31 for 81 (38%) from the floor and were outrebounded 53 to 33, and a few of those Pacer rebounds came really late in garbage time.

That's enough about this forgettable game. The Pacers are 4-4 and moving along as expected so inconsistency remains a trait we have to get used to. It is just hard to watch when you see the bad side of that inconsistency.
(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Fingers Back in the Hooscow

Stephen Jackson's nemesis from Club Rio found himself in cuffs again last night. Well, for a little bit anyway. He slipped the cuffs, then tried to play dead when the police chased him down. Where are the COPS cameras when you need them?

Reggie Miller No More

Reggie, er, Reginald Miller hoisted the first 3-ball of his post-playing career out in Hollywood last week as Boom Baby Productions premiered Beautiful Ohio at the American Film Institute's FilmFest. This LA Times article by J.A. Adande sums up the evening from Reggie's (sorry I gotta get used to this Reginald thing) perspective.

"I'm distancing myself," the man we know as Reggie Miller said. "Reggie, that was on the court. Reginald is the executive."
Occassionally, I read a message board poster or talk radio caller claim he heard a rumor that Reggie was preparing secretly to come back after the All-Star break to help solve the Pacers shooting woes and lead them through the playoffs. It's over people. Turn the page. Reggie has.

In case you can't tell the difference, Reggie Miller is on the left and Reginald Miller is on the right.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/14/06

D-Wade did more than enough to earn this honor, but I'm going with Peja for giving Adam Morrison an uplcose and personal lesson in pouring in points at the NBA level..

Peja Stojakovic

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Waiting on Pacers vs. Celtics

Here are a few items of note while we wait for the Pacers to return to action tomorrow night.
  • The All-Star ballots have been release and include four Pacers. JO and Al are no surprise. Stephen Jackson is a bit of a surprise based on his preseason issues. The guy has played a consistent role through the season so far. That consistency extends to his poor FG% but he has found ways to contribute and keep his thoughts to himself. Marquis Daniels is definitely a surprise entry on the ballot. Just on minutes and productivity I would think Danny Granger would've been included over 'Quis. Oh, well, neither are All-Star caliber, yet.
  • Mark Monteith proves that any children he may have must be older than 13. He's been killing time watching classic, old NBA games with an eye toward comparing them to today's games. Not surprisingly, he found the talent level in the '60s and '70, especially on average, inferior to today's talent level. I love his idea for a Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque airing of the old games with the Ernie Johnson, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley providing running commentary. That could be Tivo material.
  • USA Today has a small piece crediting Al's time in Atlanta with maturing his game.
  • Pacers take on the Celtics tomorrow. The C's are 1-6 and in quite a bit of turmoil. Not only does Doc Rivers have habanero juice running to his nether regions, but the heat is turning up on Danny Ainge in the front office. Check out CelticsBlog for the latest state of the Celtics. Also, other Celtics blogs include Loy's Place, Celticsstuff Live, Celtics 17, and Red's Army. No shortage of opinions on how to right the ship in Boston.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/13/06

The Sonics-Nets game provided serveral contenders for last night's honor. I'll go with Rashard Lewis for the double-double with 4 threes. Honorable mention to Damon Jones for knocking down 7 3-balls for Cleveland.
Rashard Lewis27114024

Monday, November 13, 2006

Jack's Day in Court

Jack pleaded innocent to a probation violation today.

His attorney, James Burdick, said Jackson pleaded not guilty "because he is not guilty."

Here is the Detroit version of the story.

Also, mentions correctly that this trial has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of Jack regarding the Club Rio incident. The prosecutor talked pretty tough when the incident went down, although I'm not sure if that had anything to do with election year posturing or not. I guess we'll find out in late January when Jack returns for the trial. The probation violation could result in up to 93 days in jail.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/12/06

An 18 dime triple-double? You can't mess around in the NBA and put up those numbers. Jason Kidd, doin' it like only he can do it.

Jason Kidd1511

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Team USA Not an Option for JO

According to Team USA, JO doesn't need to spend any time considering joining the team. Jerry Colangelo verbally beat down the idea yesterday, as stated in the Indy Star this morning.
"No, he won't be there," Colangelo told the Denver Post. "He was asked and there was no interest at the time. And remember, I was looking for individuals that were going to make a three-year commitment. There's no pass. You can't show up late for the dance. And that's just a general statement.
"I also said we had the flexibility of adding or deleting because we kind of set up our own infrastructure. But I want to be consistent with commitments I made to all the players."

Ouch! Stay classy, Jerry. I believe JO's interest was a positive endorsement of Team USA's efforts. As you might expect, JO was a little taken aback by these comments and flashed an emotional response.

"I had an injury," O'Neal said Saturday night. "If that disappointed them that I was trying to get healthy, then I don't want to play. First and foremost, I have to make sure that my body is healthy to play for the Indiana Pacers. I was coming off a serious (groin) injury. That's no problem if they don't want me to play. Good luck to them."

I understand Team USA's plan and position on coming in late, but how can they be sure all of the current player involved will be healthy and ready to go for the various furute events. Why burn the bridge of a player who could admirably fill a roll in case of a rash of injuries (or lost interest)? It's kind of hard to predict the future, so it seems somewhat shortsighted of Colangelo to come out so strong against JO's interest in Team USA.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/11/06

LeBron carried the load in an improbable comeback and Dwight Howard had 22 Rebs while trading big numbers with KG, but another young buck stepped up in a big way last night. Welcom Deron Williams to the FLN fraternity.
Deron Williams27315053

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Bulls 89, Pacers 80: Pacers Shattered on Glass

After playing four games in five days, the Pacers have three days off before visiting the Celtics on Wednesday. Ironically, I'm sure all of the Pacers would like to play that game tomorrow night just so they could wash away the bitter taste of Saturday night's 89-80 loss to the Bulls. For three quarters, the Pacers controlled every aspect of the game except rebounding. Proving the oft tested theory that rebounds are important, the Bulls were down most of the game and as many as 12 in the third quarter. It appeared the Pacers were in control but they couldn't extend the lead because the Bulls held a staggering edge on the offensive glass. The extra possessions earned on the glass and some timely shooting from Kirk Hinrich kept the Bulls hanging around until they seized the game in the fourth quarter. The Pacers came up empty on the offensive end while the Bulls just kept shooting until they made it, to out score the Pacers in the 4th, 30-14. That's your ballgame in a nutshell. Other observations:
  • There were lots of positive moments within the gut wrenching loss. After earning a tough victory last night, the Pacers came out strong on both ends of the floor. Ten times better than the game in D.C. under similar circumstances.
  • Danny Granger looks to have officially raised his game for the long haul. His defense is always a constant but his offense must be accounted for now. He finished with 18 points including 5 of 6 from 3-ball territory. Now he needs to hit that glass!
  • Reserve squad that did such a nice job last night didn't bring much to the table tonight. In fact, the starters were summoned back on to the court in the middle of the second quarter after some particularly sloppy play.
  • Rebounds were the difference and when you look at the differentials it makes you wonder how the Pacers managed to lead though three quarters. Rebounds Total: Chi-51, Ind-28 Offensive Rebounds: Chi-24, Ind-4
  • On the offensive glass alone, the Bulls created a chance at least 40 more points than the Pacers did. Not sure how many they cashed in but it was quite a few.
  • Down the stretch the Pacers needed a go to guy on the offensive end. JO? Al? They want that designation and it might be a burden on a tough night, but if they don't step up who will? Tonight the answer was, nobody.

This would've been a great win and will sting until the opening tip at the TD Banknorth Garden (just rolls of the tongue, doesn't it?). The team is 4-3 and remains fun to watch which isn't real easy to type after the last eight minutes of that game tonight. This game certainly provides the first real on court adversity. How they react now could set the tone for the rest of the year.

JO to Lobby for Team USA Spot?

According to this report, Jermaine O'Neal is showing an interest in playing for Team USA. He wasn't involved in the tryout process last year because of injury, and quite frankly, for the sake of the Pacers, I'd prefer he didn't get involved this year either. JO's durability is shaky at best and playing all summer won't help. This conversation should be a non-starter unless JO plays 78 healthy, regular season games this year.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/10/06

Hmm, the Knicks are involved with another FLN. A trend? This time Yao Ming has a field day with Eddie Curry.
Yao Ming35172710

Friday, November 10, 2006

Pacers 93, Magic 83: No Easy Ws

After falling behind early, the Pacers gutted out a tough win against the Magic, 93-83. Here are some observations from the game tonight:

  • First, a humorous moment at Conseco Fieldhouse. During a break in the action, late in the second quarter a fan yelled to Grant Hill, "Hey Grant, how does it feel to play so late into the season?" Grant turned and yelled back, "It feels great!" much to the delight of the crowd in the lower level.
  • Pacers were down 32-27 after one quarter. They were down by as many as 10 and just couldn't get any stops.
  • All of that changed for the rest of the game. The defense carried the Pacers to their eventual victory by giving up 18, 13, and 20 over the last three quarters.
  • Danny Granger looks a lot more comfortable, especially on the offensive end. His problem is he's getting fouls called on him like he's a rookie. Since he guards the best scorer on the other team but doesn't get the ref respect of a good defender, he gets jobbed on a lot of touch fouls.
  • The Pacers benefited from several Magic missed free throws in the second half to stay close at the break. The Pacer reserves gave the team a boost on both ends of the floor.
  • The Pacers missed the last 12 FG attempts of the first half. The overall stats at the half showed a strong advantage to the Magic, yet somehow they were only up 3. Look at these numbers! With the missed FGs and the deficit in these areas I still can't figure out how the Pacers were still in this game at the half.
Free throws14/2410/11
Pts off TO160
Fast Brk Pts188

  • The FG drought continued into the second half until Al ended it at 16 straight missed FGs.
  • The defense continued to play well. Jameer Nelson single-handedly kept the Magic around in the third by draining pull up 18 foot jump shots. For some reason he took a rest at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth. While he was on the bench the Pacers caught fire and built up a lead.
  • Danny Granger and Al Harrington provided a lot of energy and scoring. In the fourth quarter the Pacers went on a 14-0 run to build a cushion they'd never relinquish.
  • Seemed like every basket made by the Magic in the second half was either a Jameer Nelson 18 footer or a Dwight Howard dunk. Howard is a beast but, JO used a little savvy to defend him. While he got his share of dunks to get 17 points, JO had him scouted to make him catch it where he had to put the ball on the floor. This led to 7 turnovers by Howard.

So, after three games in four days and another road game at Chicago tomorrow, the Pacers are 4-2. This is the third win they've had to grind out, wearing down their opponent to eventually win in the fourth quarter. Ws aren't rated for style so we'll take 'em any way we can get 'em.

(Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/9/06

Baron Davis and Chris Paul went head-to-head, lighting up the box along the way. To the victor goes the spoils.
Baron Davis3649031

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Jermaine O'Neal's Ankle Ready for Dwight Howard, Magic

The Pacers return to the Fieldhouse to take on the Orlando Magic on Friday. According to, JO's will be in the lineup to face Dwight Howard. After tweaking his ankle by stepping on C-Webb's foot Tuesday night, Jermaine sat out the debacle in D.C. last night. The Pacers have to tighten up their all-around game after getting destroyed by the Wiz. According to Carlisle:

"We can't place the whole Washington loss on J.O. not playing," said Coach Rick Carlisle. "We didn't play a good game. We know that. We've got to move forward and get ready for Orlando. They've got the same record we do (3-2). They've had two real good wins this week in very close games at home and they're going to be ready to play us."
  • After a huge opening night, Dwight Howard has been solid but not spectacular. I'm sure he's looking at the Pacers inconsitent front line play and planning to get off. Both teams played on Wednesday so they'll be on even rest.
  • Grant Hill is a nice story for the Magic, leading the team in scoring at 16.0 per game. It seems like he's played 20 NBA games since leaving Duke because of the injuries he's had to deal with over the past few years.
  • I knew this year would be a wild ride, so it's hard to predict which Pacer team will so up against the Magic. As long as the effort and ball movement are there, the Pacers should be able to handle the Magic. If not, you may need to avert your eyes. No excuses!

(AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/8/06

Plenty of big lines to choose from tonight. Melo, Pierce, Zach Randolph, Okafor all brought big time numbers to the table. But, when the Knicks win and Jamal Crawford has a big line it can't be ignored.

Jamal Crawford3567024

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So, Jesus, Einstein, and Ricky Bobby Walk into a Bar...

David Harrison had a rare opportunity to start tonight in JO's absence but failed to take advantage of the opportunity by getting in foul trouble and only playing 18 minutes. He finished with 3 pts, 5 rebs, and 3 steals. But, let's not dwell on the negative. Harrison did provide some entertainment during a halftime "get to know you" feature.

He was asked which 3 people he would like to have dinner with. His answers amounted to 4 1/2 and included the first man ever on earth, Jesus (if he exists, then changed to a 9lb, 6oz. baby Jesus...OK) and Ricky Bobby. Then he mentioned Albert Einstein, but only if he'd speak in English since David doesn't speak German.

You can call him inconsistent at best and utterly not productive at worst while on the court. But, Harrison always brings his A-game to an interview off the court.
(Photo: NBAE/Getty)

Game 5 at Washington Wizard

Well, if we're sticking with the fight theme, the Pacers played the roll of a tomato can tonight going down late in the second (quarter). They staggered around for another for another two quarters before a TKO was declared at the final buzzer favoring the Wizards, 117-91. The Pacers had plenty of excuses for a loss and they used up every ounce of each excuse.

  • This was a back-to-back game after playing at home last night.
  • Jermaine O'Neal didn't suit up, resting the ankle he twisted last night. Don't worry Commissioner, he was suited up in street clothes, just not his uniform. Hopefully, we won't get to enjoy anymore of his splendid wardrobe this year.
  • Saras appeared to be resting his back again but came in to play in the second half and finished up the garbage time minutes.

Rick Carlisle was having none of it in his post game comments.

"We gotta be a no excuses team and we gotta compete at a high level whether we're in a back-to-back or if we have two or three days rest. Washington, they thumped us. The competed harder and better. We go what we deserved.
Get ready for practice at 1pm tomorrow fellas. Other observations from tonight:

  • First possession became an omen for the rest of the game. A turnover on a post entry pass lead to a fast break layup that David Harrison appeared to block cleanly but was ruled a goal tend. That was the first of 24 turnovers that led to 35 points for the Wiz. The ultimate indicator of a Pacers loss is in the turnover column.
  • David Harrison had an opportunity to step up tonight starting in JO's absence. With 11:58 in the first quarter he had foul one and then went to the bench with two fouls at 8:48.
  • With Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and Gilbert Arenas the Wizards have an exciting trio to work around. They are a pleasure to watch (unless of course they're drubbing your team).
  • Pacers were within one with 4:30 left in the second quarter. Despite the score the Wizards appeared in command and proved it the rest of the way, leading by 15 at the half and over 30 in the second half.
  • Arenas finished off the half with 9 points, including a drive through all five of the Pacers. He looked like Reggie Bush knifing his way through traffic for a layup. Then he followed that drive up with a 4 point play (oops, JT). He kept it going long enough to knock out the Pacers, scoring 40 points in three quarters.
  • A preseason game broke out in the fourth quarter with the game settled.

So, the Pacers head home 3-2 to face Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic on Friday.

(Photo: NBAE/Getty)

Pacers Ready to Rumble in D.C.

The Washington Wizards take a break from fighting each other to welcome the Pacers to D.C. This will be a tough game for the Pacers after displaying their best effort of the year in a win last night against the Sixers.

Here is a preview from Coach Carlisle lays out the challenge of repeating last night's effort on the road.

"Now, we've got to sustain it," said Coach Rick Carlisle. "Inconsistency has been our nemesis. But if we play with this kind of effort, the mistakes will work themselves out."

A great effort tonight will be a great, early indication that this Pacers team is ready to raise their game to another level. As always, talk is fine, but show me on the court.

(Photo: NBAE/Getty)

Marquis Daniels Talks to has an interview with Marquis Daniels. Jeff Lenchiner tried his best to get some dirt on the Mavs and how the Daniels/Croshere trade went down. Alas, 'Quis wasn't too forthcoming. Were you pushing for a trade to happen?
Marquis Daniels: Yeah. In search of more minutes, a bigger role, elsewhere?
Marquis Daniels: Yeah.

OK. He did answer the rest of the questions with full sentences.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/7/06

You knew we'd have a couple of options from election night. I'll let you decide. Personally, I'm a sucker for 3-balls, but D-Wade's line did lead to a W...

LeBron James3476123
Dwyane Wade3176321

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Game 4 vs. Philadelphia 76ers

The Pacers weathered an early surge from Allen Iverson and then dominated the final three quarters of action for a 97-86 win. The theme of the night was depth. Nine players logged the bulk of the minutes with six scoring in double figures. Jeff Foster only scored five point but grabbed 10 rebounds. Other observations logged throughout the game:

  • Pacers came out strong, setting the pace by attacking on offense and playing tough defense.
  • Allen Iverson took over the last couple minutes of the first quarter as the Sixers took advantage of 5 Pacer turnovers to lead at the end of the quarter, 23-20.
  • When did Chris Webber turn into Robert Parish. He Chief-like baby step dribbles in the lane for hook shots evoked memories of 00 in the old Boston Garden. His days of high flying dunks are behind him, but he still has the veteran savvy to make an impact. He just didn't seem too interested in making that happen tonight.
  • Rawle Marshall played significant minutes starting in the second quarter. Apparently, Saras needed to rest his back. Just when it looked like we turned the corner with Saras, this flares up. Not much mention so for now I'm assuming it is nothing to worry about.
  • I wonder if Saras has ever heard of Wally Pipp. Man, Rawle looked great tonight. He immediately stripped Willie Green of the ball and took it the distance for a layup. At times, he blanketed Kyle Korver in the second half, and had one eye opening rebound where he just went up the ladder over an unsuspecting Sixer in the paint. Oh, by the way he finished with 16 point on a perfect night from the field and free throw line.
  • Like I said, depth was on display. Along with Rawle, Jeff Foster was active on the boards and 'Quis Daniels made a three and did his share on defense.
  • Speaking of boards, the Pacers outrebounded the Sixers 52-32 and offset 21 turnovers with 25 assists.
  • When the Pacers aren't trying to run, their half court offense looks fabulous. The ball movement and off ball cuts to the hoop made for plenty of open looks and easy layups. The success is showing too as the player appear to be feeding off each other, hitting shots and making assertive plays with the ball.
  • Stephen Jackson played another solid, all-around game despite having another off night shooting from outside the arc. He finished with 10 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals.
  • Danny Granger announced his presence with authority on both ends of the floor toward the end of the third quarter, scoring 8 of his 14 points and playing some spectacular defense.
  • JO has become a defensive monster. He had four blocks and altered another handful of shots. He also had a nice shooting night finishing with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

The Pacers are 3-1 and exceeding expectations at this point. They'll be challenged to back up their last two efforts with a solid challenge tomorrow night in D.C. The Wizards will provide a few more matchup issues with Arenas, Jamison, and Butler running around looking for shots. The Pacers showed tonight they have the depth to throw some pressure at those guys, let's just hope they show up.

Hoops Addict The Magazine

Hoops Addict The Magazine is a hyper-fresh read launched by the publisher of The magazine is directed at, well, NBA hoops addicts. If you are reading this site, you qualify. CHECK IT OUT! on Darrell Armstrong

Bruno has a great piece on Darrell Armstrong's impact on the Pacers. He's living up to expectations with his leadership in the lockers rooms and exceeding expectations with his productivity on the court.
In the meantime, the Pacers should make the most of their time with this unrelenting veteran. When a guy of his age and experience brings the level of energy he does to the court, he gives his much, much younger teammates no excuse to do anything less.

"He's a different type of dude," said Harrington. "It's hard to match the energy he brings, but we definitely should be able to play that hard."

As I mentioned in the first post on Cornrows, Bruno's work on is unmatched among official NBA sites.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/6/06

Air Gordon, Air Gordon, Air Gordon...It's gotta be the shoes, Money!

Ben Gordon3749012

Honorable mention to Baron Davis who stuffed the stat sheet as well last night.

Monday, November 06, 2006

David Harrison Lays It Out in SLAM Online Diary

David Harrison has a Player's Ball online diary entry up at SLAM Online. Among other light tidbits, we hear DH is reading Alice in Wonderland and he loves the new basketball.
It’s like the old Nike ball, easier to palm. Some guys don’t like it, but I don’t have to dribble with it. I just have to dribble twice and dunk.
From your lips to the scoreboard, David. It appears he's not real clear about his role on this team. Judging by his sporadic playing time in the first few games, he's going to have to keep working to earn more time. If he can make a breakthrough in consistent production this year, the Pacers will be hard to contend with.

Pacers and Sixers Meet on a Similar Path

Philly comes to town riding a three game winning streak to open the season. Sam Donnellon has a nice read on the way the Sixers have come together as a team under Mo Cheeks. There are a lot of similarities between the Sixers and the Pacers, as both try to develop into solid Eastern Conference playoff teams. On paper, the Pacers are considered a better team but that is when they use their depth, play unselfishly, hit the boards, and play strong defense. The Sixers rely on the same definition of team to play larger than the sum of their parts.

Nine Sixers had points and significant minutes, but the theme yesterday, as it has been since their sojourn to Europe, was defense.
Team defense.
"That's something Mo talks and talks about," Iverson said of coach Maurice Cheeks. "He's got to know what he's going to get from every player, every night. What are you bringing to the table every single night?"
"We're almost like a football team," said Steven Hunter, who played most of his nearly 21 minutes in the second half. "It's all about execution.
"We don't get our schemes right, we don't play."
The Pacers have to maintain the same attitude to remain productive. The players want to run? Well, you gotta play solid team defense and get some stops to earn a chance to run on offense. The margin of error is slight so if one or two guys aren't pulling their weight you will likely be hanging up an L at the end of the night.

The Sixers margin of error revolves around Iverson and to a certain extent, Chris Webber. The health of AI and C-Webb hang over the Sixers playoff hopes like a guillotine. Webber played 75 games last year, equaling the most games played since the '99-00 season. He averaged 30 games per year the prior three seasons. Games played usually isn't a problem with AI, but he takes a beating which leads to stretches of games where he's playing at far less than 100%. With a nice compliment of young, active players on the roster, these two vets have to be the steadying force that brings the team together and leads them.

Iverson is healthy now and carrying the load so far, sharing player of the week honors with Carlos Boozer. He always brings the effort in front of a boisterous Conseco Fieldhouse making the Sixers games in Indy an event.

Familiar Faces:
The Sixers have a couple of familiar players on their roster this year. Kevin Ollie earned a minor cult following during his 29 games with the Pacers in '01-'02. He came over along with Ron Artest, Ron Mercer, and Brad Miller in a trade for Jalen Rose and Travis Best. While he wasn't a threat to score, he handled the point quite well and made an impression with his defense and constant hustle. He's starting at PG for the Sixers this season allowing Kyle Korver to come off the bench for an offensive boost.

Former IU Hoosier and Brebeuf Jesuit standout, Alan Houston is also on the Sixers roster this year. He has not played in the first three games this year.

Northwest High School's high flyin' alum, Rodney Carney makes his pro debut at Conseco. Carney is averaging about 14 minutes/game off the bench.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/5/06

Allen Iverson is reminding all the young bucks that he is not done being heard from as he leads the Sixers to a 3-0 start.

Allen Iverson31413022

Honorable Mention: Go Colts!

Peyton Manning203632621

Thanks for Stopping By TrueHoop-Heads!

Wow! Welcome to all those who found your way here through I'd like to formally thank Henry Abbott for the link.

Henry Abbott is to NBA Blogosphere traffic as Oprah Winfrey is to any book, movie, or product mentioned on her show.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/4/06

We had to dip into that swole box score from the Wiz and C's game.

Gilbert Arenas4416025

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Spike, Reggie, and Soon-Yi

Watching a game from Madison Square Garden always includes some star power. Spike Lee is always courside going crazy while Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn manage to watch the game without showing any emotion.

The Pacers sideline reporter, Stacy Paetz managed to score an interview with Spike at the start of the 2nd quarter. It was pretty routine until she asked him if he missed Reggie coming to town with the Pacers. He started chuckling and said:
"I've gotten three emails on my Blackberry from Reggie already tonight. He (Reggie) says, 'The game is over. It's a wrap.' I (Spike) said, 'It's early.' He says, 'It's a wrap. It doesn't matter.'"
Classic stuff from courtside. Put a great visual in my head of Reggie sitting at home going through the ups and downs of a Pacers game just like the rest of us. Nice work, Stacy!

Meanwhile, when the camera's gave us the obligatory Woody and Soon-Yi shot in the 4th quarter, I was taken aback by Soon-Yi. She's starting to show her age. She better watch out because Woody may start looking into adopting his next wife. Actually, she might get the better end of that deal.

Game 3 vs. New York Knicks

The Pacers came out like a different team tonight in the Garden and finally put away the Knicks, 109-95. Jamaal Tinsely set the tone, representin' Brooklyn and getting the Pacers off to a fast start. Al Harrington showed up huge across the Hudson from his home pouring in 32 points from all over the court. Here are some notes from throughout the game:
First Quarter

  • Now this is the way to start a game. Plenty of energy, playing tough D, hitting the glass, and filling the lanes for easy buckets. Tinsley isn't letting any of his friends and family down when he comes home to The City.
  • Poor shooting out of the gate kept the Knicks within arms length.
  • Al hustled his way to a few easy buckets to jump start his big night. All the Pacers seem to be out working the the Knicks for rebounds. They've flipped the script from last night.

Second Quarter

  • Wow, the shots started falling early in the 2nd quarter. Darrell Armstrong started a run on jumpers and it became contagious. Al, JO, Tins, everyone was tickling the twine. Looks like this solid effort may last the whole game, which is nice after last night.
  • DA is 38 and draining shots while chasing Nate Robinson around. He's providing more than a spark off the bench now.
  • 'Quis Daniels has skills, but they are still raw. He just doesn't know how to fully utilize that skill. Looking forward to watching the light bulbs go off as his game grows.
  • Knicks finish the half 13-19 from the line, while the Pacers haven't even shot a free throw. That keeps the Knicks within 5 at the half.

Third Quarter

  • Al came out raining jumpers as the Pacers pushed the lead to around ten.
  • JT - Brooklyn in the house! Hittin' open jumpers and droppin' double digit dimes.
  • Stephen Jackson comes through with a solid quarter, pumping in 10 points and taking charges on defense. The guy is playing a great role on this team right now with no extracurricular activities.
  • Al shoots the Pacers first free throw midway through the quarter - about time.
  • Al flat out took over a stretch of the game in the third. I guess we can start calling him by his nickname, Big Thirst.
  • On the flip side, Eddy Curry is a menace tonight, exposing the Pacers' lack of a big body to match up with him.
  • Nate Rob sparks a late run, including a three as time winds down to put the Knicks within one at the end of the quarter! How are the Pacers not up by 20 right now?

Fourth Quarter

  • Uh, oh, right out of the gate the clanks seem to be back. The Knicks are packing in a zone defense and the Pacers can't bust it.
  • Thanks, Zeke. The Knicks go man to man and DA and Saras kick the offense into gear.
  • With 8 minutes to go, DA had the play of the game. He stole the ball and headed for a breakaway with Marbury and Francis in pursuit. DA was able to knife through them as they went up on one side of the hoop and scoop in a layup on the opposite side to put the Pacers up 10. Marbury then kicked the ball, earning a T and another point for the Pacers. That ladies and gentlemen is how you lose more games than you win and that's what Marbury has done in his career. He would be done for the night.
  • The Pacers were able to keep the Knicks from a serious threat the rest of the way. Danny Granger had two huge rebounds, one which come with a put back bucket.
  • From at least the 6 minute mark to the end of the game, the Pacers bench was standing and going crazy supporting the players on the court. It is safe to say that never happened last year. We're talking Jack and Tins, giving up prime stretch minutes but leading the cheers with smiles and fist pumps. Now this is the type of team I can pull for and enjoy it.
  • Reggie was right, it's a wrap.

The Pacers head home 2-1 with a couple of days off before playing Philly on Tuesday night. Rest up and behave men, you earned it tonight.

James White to the Spurs

James White signed with the Spurs yesterday. Draft Express has the details. Absolutely no risk for the Spurs since he signed a non-guarnteed deal for the league minimum, contigent on being on the roster. JW will be double dipping since the Pacers still owe him $1.1 million. Can't see him playing much this year but worth the effort to see if he can raise his game. They gotta activate him around the All-Star game to let him dominate the slam dunk contest. Maybe even sell a couple of jerseys.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/3/06

Iverson getting it done as the Sixers keep a lid on Dwight Howard and Grant Hill. Grant Hill?!?!? Not only is he playing but making big contributions to the Magic.
Allen Iverson39310003

Honorable mention to Ray Allen for hoisting 12 3-balls. Gotta love the effort.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Game 2 vs. New Orleans/Ok City Hornets

The Pacers misfired down the stretch, dropping their home opener to the Hornets, 100-91. Here are a few things I noticed from my lay-z-boy:
  • The Pacers would be dangerous if someone, anyone, could shoot the ball consistently. My God, Reggie spoiled us for all of those years. I never find myself uttering 'Boom, Baby!' when anticipating an open 3-ball from any of these guys. Saras could be that guy but he has trouble getting clean, open looks. The Pacers shot 40% from the field and 7-26 (27%) from 3 land.
  • Despite the poor shooting, the Pacers mounted another second half rally and took a lead into the fourth quarter until the clanks returned and the Hornets took over down the stretch.
  • The key stat tonight was rebounds. The Hornets didn't shot better than the Pacers, but not much better. The turnovers were minimal for both teams (15 NOK, 12 IND). On the glass, Tyson Chandler (15 REB) and the Hornets held a 53-34 advantage. Ouch, that's a lot of extra possesions for the Hornets.
  • Good News for the Pacers: Marquis Daniels did a nice job off the bench. He was still a little tentative making moves with the ball, but also showed some assertiveness by getting into the lane to create a shot. Danny Granger was real active on defense and even hit a couple of threes. These guys are fun to watch. JO was JO with 25 points and 5 blocks, although he was part of the front court that was outworked for rebound opportunities.
  • Bad News for the Pacers: Jamaal Tinsley struggled a bit tonight. Chris Paul certainly isn't a good matchup for Tins or anyone for that matter. Like most teams, the Hornets left Jamaal open for threes he couldn't convert. Al Harrington is STRUGGLING, plain and simple. He seems to be in the mix but can't get a call and his shot is out of rhythm. He looks like good ol' Baby Al with his mind going a little faster than his body. I'd be in favor of bringing him in off the bench at this point. Start Foster and then bring in Al for an energy boost.
  • The crowd seemed indifferent to Peja. He sure was a courteous guest only shooting 3-10 from the field and 1-3 from the line for 8 points. Peja gave Pacer fans a reason to cheer their team for not coughing up $13 mil/yr for him.
  • With only 6 home games in the first 19, I was hoping for a 10-10 record after the first 20 games. At 1-1, at least the Pacers are still on target.
  • This Pacers head back out on the road tomorrow to meet up with Zeke and the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Maybe some of the Pacers will capture the shooting spirit of Reggie lingering around MSG from heroic moments past.

To Boo or Not to Boo

Why all the fuss about Peja's return? An AP story that ran on Yahoo! Sports, and other like-minded outlets, ponder what kind of reaction Peja's return will elicit from Pacer fans. Peja left in a sign and trade deal after just 40 games with the Pacers. He is a great scorer but with the Pacers attempt to use athletic, interchangeable players in an uptempo game, spending 13mil/yr on a shooter wouldn't have been smart. I will lament the lack of outside shooting from this team all year, but that doesn't alter my thinking that Peja was not the right player for the Pacers at that price. The additional emotional issue with Peja was that he was traded for the infamously loved or hated Ron Artest (I loved). So now there is nothing to show for Ron Ron's departure. That isn't Peja's fault and really, it is time to bury the ties to Ronnie. The salary room helped bring in several promising young players who won't be instant superstars but could likely grow into very productive players in the team concept. So save the boos, the end result may actually be something to cheer about.

Speaking of boos, some fans may save them for the home team, especially Stephen Jackson. The Indy Star has two stories today about the Pacers working to clean up their image and Jack's ability to win back fans. Just the kind of fluff pieces you love if you're the Pacers on opening night. They even track down a disgruntled, former season ticket holder, Jake Scott:
"I talk to a lot of people who are fans, and the majority, by far, aren't supporting (Jackson)," Scott said. "Even if they won, I'd have an empty feeling. I hope things turn around, but I don't envision it with those two guys (Tinsley and Jackson) on the roster."
Sorry, Mr. Scott, but if the Pacers win, you'll be back. I know it, you know it and the supposed legion of fans you talked to who agree with you know it. Time and wins heal all wounds in professional sports. In fact, a guy like Jack can become a cult hero through redemption simply by playing well on the court and not being heard from off it. I mean really, Jack has only had two bad nights. Two! Granted, on the scale of bad night severity, both went well past "no one would believe it if there weren't witnesses" on the meter. The whole caveat in Jack's quest for on court redemption is the in court avoidance of jail time. Those two little nights I mentioned will force him to make a few in-season court appearances with jail time hanging in the balance, especially in Michigan. If he gets jail time, any accrued good will is destroyed and we're back to ground zero with the Pacers being left in a bad position. If he avoids jail time, full redemption is left up to Jack.

So, who gets the boos tonight? I wouldn't muster the energy to boo either, but my ticket for tonight's game in Row 1, Seat Lay-Z-Boy, Section Family Room so it will be hard to determine the actual fan response on TV. If anyone who goes to the game can report on their perception of the crowd response, I'd appreciate it.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/2/06

Sam I Am carried the Clips down the stretch, keeping the Shaun Livingston era on ice.

Sam Cassell3566002

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Pacers Have to Earn Dap

The Pacers are certainly flying under the radar, unless, of course, there is a guns and strippers joke to be told. Any praise they hear this year will be hard earned. That's a good thing.

On, David Thorpe jotted down 38 points from the NBA action Tuesday night while he surfed the League Pass. The Pacers were mentioned in two of the points.

7. Sarunas Jasikevicius has tremendous court vision. And is a winner. Rick Carlisle seems to have a better feel for how to use him. I liked him playing with Jamaal Tinsley and Marquis Daniels -- three playmakers with versatile games.

18. Al Harrington's mohawk is just wrong. He must have lost a bet.

I can live with both of those points. Saras needs to string a few games like last night together and the comment will be spot on. As for Al, the mohawk does look odd, especially with the headband. Maybe after last night's rough start, he'll come out clean on Friday.

Leftover Thoughts from Opening Night

Still contemplating Danny Granger's flagrant foul in the first half. The play was questionable and I don't begrudge Gerald Wallace if he was upset with the play. But, tough minded teams don't give up anything easy. While not his intention, Granger sent a messge to his team and certainly the Bobcats that we are going to keep coming at you. Bernie Bickerstaff gets it:
Granger was called for a flagrant foul. Bickerstaff wasn't bothered by Granger's action so much as he was disappointed his players didn't show some toughness of their own.
"Gerald went in (for a dunk) and they didn't concede the basket,'' Bickerstaff said. "They went in for layups and we had the cape out (like matadors). We didn't even contest'' their baskets.

I know it was opening night, but this team showed some of that great chemistry they've been talking about. Seemed like whenever a player hit the floor, a couple of teammates would run over to help him up. Lots of back slapping, head tapping, keep it up enthusiasm passed around during time outs. There was some adversity in this game with poor shooting and foul trouble. They looked awful at times, but found a way to muscle out a win by putting the game away in the fourth quarter. We certainly didn't see that much last season.

Fantasy Line of the Night 11/1/06

Plenty to choose from last night, but I'll go with PP doing all he could for the home crowd.

Paul Pierce29194013

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Game 1 vs. Charlotte Bobcats

The Pacers had a fabulous opening night on the road, taking over the game in the second half to win, 106-99. Here are a few observations from tonight's action:

  • First of all, the Pacers were fun to watch tonight. The uptempo pace of play is still a work in progress, but looked good most of the night. There were several ugly moments in the first half, especially a stretch in the second quarter when the blue and gold committed several junior high level turnovers. But, they were working hard in the hustle areas on the boards and defense which kept them in the game.
  • Not a text book win for the Pacers. Al Harrington spent much of the first three quarters on the bench. JO had to weather a rough shooting start and foul trouble during the first half. JO impressed by coming out in the second half and taking over stretches to finish with 20 points. Al finished off the game playing smart and hitting the glass, including 6 offensive rebounds. These two guys were frustrated but ended up playing like pro's pros down the stretch.
  • What happens in preseason, stays in preseason. Saras was nothing short of spectacular coming off the bench tonight. He finished with an efficient 20 points on 5-6 shooting including 2-2 from behind the arc. He played well with Armstrong and only had one turnover. His play was huge in keeping the Pacers within striking distance. Speaking of DA, he provided plenty of spark as advertised (and a few key 3-balls).
  • Stephen Jackson played a solid game the whole way through. He didn't have a great shooting night but was able to get to the line, finishing with 18 points. He also played solid on the definsive end scrounging up 4 steals. More importantly you only knew he was on the court when he was making a play. There were no emotional outburst, although it appeared he and Carlisle had a quick, yet heated exchange heading into a time out. Now Jack needs to back up this effort on Friday and bring it consistently.
  • The bench had 48 points and allowed all kinds of flexibility with the starters nursing foul trouble. There is suddenly a wealth of guys willing to do the dirty work, hit the boards, take a charge, play tough D. Now if they could find another consistent shooter or two.
  • Must mention a major turning point in the game when Danny Granger rose to challenge a break away dunk by Gerald Wallace. The flagrant foul ended Wallace's night which was huge. Wallace was wreaking havoc on the defensive end and providing plenty of offense. Though the play was ugly, I commend Granger for never giving up on it and this may actually help him in the future because players will know if he's on the floor he's coming, ala Tayshaun Prince and Reggie. When Granger develops a consistent outside shot he will have Pippen's game.
  • The start of the game looked odd on TV. They needed a fog advisory after the pregame fireworks. Games from that Charlotte arena always seem a little dark anyway and then with the fog it looked like the Kelly Tripuka era Pistons' games from the Silverdome.
  • The "You think Michael train in the pool" LeBron ad, kills me every time.
  • 1-0 is so much better than 0-1. Next game at home against the Hornets on Friday.

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