Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Pacers 96, Heat 94: Now We're Talkin'

After falling behind by 20 to the Heat, the Pacers dug deep to come up with a bench-infused comeback and a fourth quarter lead. Dwyane Wade wasn't done and hit a contested 3-ball to tie the game late. But with a chance for the win, D-Wade missed a Granger-harassed game winner, sending the game to OT. In the extra time, Granger and Murphy took care of the scoring and Jason Kapono's 3-ball at the buzzer thought about going in but then squirted out of the hoop to give the Pacers the win, 96-94. Plenty of observations from this one:

  • I don't see the Pacers winning this one two weeks ago. Down 20 late in the third, with JO having an off night (4-20 FGA)? I don't think so.
  • JO wasn't the only one missing shots. Through the first two and a half quarters it seemed like everyone was missing. Dunleavy finished 1-7, Granger was off in the first half. They were getting good looks, it just seemed like one of those nights.
  • Darrell Armstrong continued to impose his will on the game and was heavily involved in the fourth quarter comeback. In fact, DA played the whole fourth quarter before having Tinsley take over in OT.
  • Along with DA, the comeback lineup included Jeff Foster, Marquis Daniels, Ike Diogu, and Danny Granger. They started the fourth quarter with three straight 3-balls (Granger 2, DA 1) to which cut the lead to four in a blink of an eye. From there this group was just vicious on defense and aggressive on offense. They took what was theirs.
  • A key player in the comeback lineup was Diogu. He held down the paint and had a couple of nice interior scores. Apparently he won't get the benefit of any calls down low. Didn't seem to bother him as he just kept going at it until he scored.
  • Yes, D-Wade had 32, but Army hounded him in the fourth and really disrupted anything Wade was trying to do. Until his late three pointer, Wade only had four points in the deciding quarter.
  • D-Wade did show off his sick skills earlier in the game. With his ankle healthy and legs fresh he flashed the burst that separates him from mere mortal pro basketball players. On one beautiful play, Gary Payton threw a long pass to a streaking Wade who had two Pacers right with him. Instead of catching the ball and then going up, Wade started leaping just as the ball arrived and floated the rest of the way in the air for a layup. The startled Pacers who were preparing to block a shot after he gathered the pass were left on the ground staring in awe.
  • Oh yeah, Shaq played a little.
  • Shaq provided a funny moment after he plowed over Dunleavy and was called for a foul. After Mike D made sure all of his limbs were intact, he reached for a hand up and Shaq left him hanging. DA was quick to grab the hand and get him up.
  • Murphy had a nice 17 and 12 including a couple of key jumpers in OT. He had a couple of nice pick 'n pop plays with Tinsley, hitting open 17 footers.
  • The point guard situation remains interesting with DA getting the bulk of the key minutes. Tinsley had his good but DA seemed to have the game flowing at a nice pace when he played.
  • 'Quis Daniels needs mention here too. He was a big part of the defensive effort in the fourth quarter. He also hit some of his patented garbage runners in the lane.
  • Tough night for JO. Shots weren't falling and he didn't seem to have any lift. He had several shots around the rim that he couldn't get over the rim. Alonzo Mourning was credited with several blocks on JO's shots. Can't wait until JO gets calls like other All-Star caliber players.
  • OK, I'm rambling but this game was big. Quinn Buckner mentioned a developing resolve building up with the Pacers and I sense the same thing. On a night when players 6 thru 9 on your bench flat out earn the W, it really builds up the confidence of the team as a whole. With new faces trying to mesh, an effort like tonight goes a long way to players trusting each other.
  • During the third quarter we learned that Mike Dunleavy is an avid Scrabble player and he offered to take on all challengers. He claims to have posted 100-plus point words in past games.
  • The Colts' Reggie Wayne was courtside with a few of his boys. His presence was acknowledged with a standing O just prior to the start of the fourth quarter.
  • The Pacers have a couple of days off at home before Toronto visits the Fieldhouse on Saturday night.

(Photos: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

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