Pacers 95, Lakers 84: Super Win
After being fully immersed in Super Bowl hype week, the Pacers came out as pumped up as the rest of the city, combining a rare energetic start with a strong finish to beat the Lakers, 95-84. The Pacers have been in town all week and there's no avoiding the hype and buzz around town for the Colts' Super Bowl appearance. Souvenir stands are popping up like fireworks booths before the 4th of July. Step inside a clothing or grocery store and you're amazed at how many items they can slap a horseshoe on and deliver in blue and white. TV, radio, newspapers, Internet, there's no avoiding the hype and the city's buzz has been building and building throughout the week. Everyone in town is ready to bust through the wedge on a kickoff right now. The Pacers seemed to come out with that mentality, too. JO busted the wedge by scoring the first 13 Pacer points and sending two Laker bigs to the bench early with 2 fouls. That initial burst of energy faded but in the end the Pacers were able to dig deep and grind out a nice win in the fourth quarter. Other thoughts:
- Kobe Bryant got to know Danny Granger quite well tonight. Granger was hounding Mamba all night, especially keeping tabs on him in the first half. In the end Kobe had 22 points on 7-25 shooting. Six of those 22 came real late in the game when Bryant was trying to produce a miracle and hit back-to-back 28 foot 3-balls. The chance for three 3s in a row ended up as a turnover and that ended the comeback dream.
- Jamaal Tinsley and Darrell Armstrong didn't play as a tandem, but covered all of the PG minutes. They combined for a nice line with 30 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, and 3 3-balls.
- After the Pacers' strong first quarter, the Lakers dominated the 2nd and 3rd, running at least two guys at JO every time he touched the ball. No one in purple could handle JO to that point, so this move slowed him down. After other players missed a few easy buckets in the 3rd quarter, the Pacers offense ground to a halt and the Lakers went on a run to take the lead.
- Danny Granger finally answered the Lakers with a 3-ball. The Pacers had missed 15 3s in a row over the past two games. Mike Dunleavy followed shortly with a 3 of his own after having a few go in and out earlier in the game.
- Every once in awhile I blurt out, "So glorious! Victorious!" Nike wins, again.
- Lakers went on a 9-0 run late in the 3rd quarter to take a 70-63 lead into the 4th quarter.
- The Pacers started the 4th with DA running the show while both teams' rested their stars. Army brought his trademark spark, leading a solid team defensive effort that quickly erased the Lakers' lead. The signature play was when little DA perfectly timed a block of an easy layup by Sasha Vujacic.
- JT and JO returned to the floor with 6:40 left and the Pacers up one. Tins hit a 3-ball on the first trip down and the Pacers never looked back.
- At 2:12 Granger hit a 3-ball that put the Pacers up 11 and then after a Tins steal, Granger finished a break opportunity for a 13 point lead with 1:30 to go. Game over...well, Kobe did rise up briefly like a horror movie villain everyone thought was dead. His two bombs from 3-land gave everyone a brief scare, but it was too little too late.
- Troy Murphy broke his nose in the first quarter and did not return.
- Murphy's schnoz gave Jeff Foster extended minutes and he was quite productive. Yes, he grabbed his 12 rebounds but Foster deserves special mention for his straight up defense of Lamar Odom. A few times in the fourth, Odom was isolated on Foster and ended up not getting off a good shot or turning it over outright. Odom seemed determined to prove he could take Foster to the hole but it never happened and he ended up with six turnovers.
- David Harrison was cleared to play prior to the game but was inactive. Marquis Daniels joined DH sitting out his third game with knee tendinitis.
- The Pacers kept pace with the Central Division leaders and now sit four games over .500 and 2.5 games out of the Central Division lead.
- The Pacers go to Memphis Saturday night for one of only two road games in February. The Grizzlies are struggling but have had a couple of days off at home, so the Pacers will need to bring a strong effort to take home a W.
(Photo: AP Photo/Darron Cummings)