Thursday, January 18, 2007

Heat 104, Pacers 101: New Options Emerge

The Pacers looked like they were out of gas and options in the second half as the Heat built a solid double-digit lead. Just as the Heat were powering down for the night, the Pacers showed a little heart and made it a tight finish. But Danny Granger's 3-ball at the buzzer came up short leaving the Pacers with a loss, 101-104. Here's the game recap.

This was a strange game with the Heat coming off a 4-2 West Coast roadie and playing their best ball of the year. Shaq did not play but with Mourning in the middle the Heat have everything covered. So we had the surging Heat playing a Pacers team in transition minus the ex-Warriors added to the roster yesterday. Under these circumstances a Pacers' loss was expected. Fortunately, they didn't play that way and revealed some positive items of interest:

  • Danny Granger and Marquis Daniels played like they were unshackled and new they had to step up to fill the scoring void left by Jack and Al. Both players were assertive and not deferring to anyone. Granger finished with a career-high 28 points on 9-15 shooting, including 3 from 3-land. 'Quis used his crafty, mid-range game to pour in 23 points on 10-18 from the floor. The time is now for both of these guys and at least tonight they embraced the opportunity.
  • Marquis Daniels went with a new look 'do, pulling his braids back with a head band. Whatever it takes, 'Quis.
  • Foster actually made some bunnies tonight fueling the fourth quarter comeback with some nice garbage buckets. He scored 12 points in the fourth to finish with 14 on 6-7 from the field.
  • Dwyane Wade didn't disappoint with some spectacular plays including throwing in a no-look-behind-the-head, left-handed shot off the glass after being fouled on a drive. The guy gets his share of superstar calls. That's a nice card to have in your pocket, one the Pacers don't possess. JO's getting there but he still has a way to go.
  • Surprisingly, Maceo Baston only played two minutes. With the extra minutes available, I figured he'd play quite a bit. He did have a nice jam in his brief stint on the floor.
  • Charles Barkley kept talking up the Pacers at the half. He made a prediction that the Pacers would end up with a better record than the Cavs. With LeBron and Co. struggling on the West Coast it's easy to anticipate a decline by the Cavs, so Barkley certainly wasn't suggesting the Pacers would top a Cavs team that maintained their current pace. His main point is that he thinks the Pistons and Heat are the only true contenders in the East so if the Pacers play improves, they could move up to at least a four seed.
  • The Pacers have a day off to get acquainted with their new teammates before playing the Knicks at home on Saturday. The Knicks game is the first of four home games in eight days.

(Photo: Issac Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)

FREE hit counter and Internet traffic statistics from