Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Granger Heading to Vegas

Danny Granger was selected to play for the Sophomore team in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam next Friday in Vegas. Hard to believe this is the eighth year of this sideshow event. Nice recognition for Granger and the progress he's made this year. Jermaine O'Neal should get his flight voucher for Vegas tomorrow as the East and West All-Star reserves are announced.

Line of the Night 1/30/07

Austin Croshere took advantage of his playing time with an offensive outburst as the Mavs ran away from the Supes. Good night for a good guy as Cro poured in 34 points in 23 minutes with 7 luscious 3-balls that no fantasy owner will ever claim.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Austin Croshere3473007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pacers 103, Celtics 96: Smothered Chicken

The Pacers came out of the blocks slowly and fell behind early to a scrappy Celtics squad. Scrappy alone doesn't get it done, though, and this injury-riddled Celtics team just isn't very good right now. The Pacers managed to stay out of the C's way as they self-destructed with travelling calls, offensive fouls, and poor offense in general. The Pacers took a 20 point lead into the fourth and held off the C's through a strange finish for the 103-96 win. In the end, a W and two days off should leave smiles all around. More thoughts:

  • Marquis Daniels was inactive tonight, resting his knee. Never thought the Pacers would miss his offense, but they could've used a few of those little runners tonight.
  • Between Daniels' injury and Dunleavy's foul trouble, Rawle Marshall saw plenty of burn. The kid is a little out of sync on offense but he can flat out defend. His six missed free throws contributed to the score being closer than the game played.
  • Rawle served up the defensive play of the night with the help of Pacers' commentator, Quinn Buckner. Szczerbiak made a baseline move and went up for a runner only to have Marshall recover and stuff Wally's shot attempt. That brought QB to the edge of his seat as he exclaimed, "Oooooooooo, smothered chicken!" Kind of captured the essence of this game.
  • Jamaal Tinsley led the Pacers with 28 points on a variety of pull up jumpers. It was another day at the office for JO, finishing with 25 points and 8 rebounds.
  • Dunleavy and Murphy struggled again, although Murphy did get it going a little in the second half. Dunleavy had two fouls, 20 seconds into the game and never really factored in the rest of the night.
  • The Celtics point guard situation drastically changed since the last meeting. Bassy Telfair was third off the bench and only saw extended minutes because starter, Delonte West couldn't go in the second half due to sickness. Rajon Rondo is freaky quick with the ball but still remains benign from 18 feet and out.
  • The Celtics ended the game with 40 fouls which ended up being a decent game plan since the Pacers missed 17 free throws.
  • The missed free throws combined with a few bad turnovers and a defensive effort that was more interested in keeping the clock running, allowed the Celtics to sneak back into the game late. The C's ended the fourth quarter with 40 points but couldn't get enough breaks to catch the Pacers. Strange game.
  • Speaking of strange, seeing Rupert from Survivor behind the Pacers bench qualified. I'm surprised he's not down in Miami working an angle with CBS and the Colts. I guess it's still early in the week.
  • The Pacers have two days off before the Kobe and the Lakers come to town on Friday night.

(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Line of the Night 1/29/07

Kevin Garnett flashed his greatness in leading Minny past the streaking Suns. Somewhere Dwane Casey sighs.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Kevin Garnett44112030

Monday, January 29, 2007

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Celtics

The Pacers have to pick themselves up off the canvas after getting reality checked by the Pistons on Sunday night. The team's positive momentum came to a screeching halt as fast as you can say "'Sheed and Chief-Webb." What better tonic for what ails you than a visit from the Celtics? After all, the C's have lost eleven in a row and the focus around North Station has drifted to day dreaming about players named Oden and Durant.

So why would I never consider putting a penny or two on the Pacers tomorrow? Well, first of all you never say never with the '06-'07 Pacers. Secondly, the Celtics have played the Pacers tough, in fact the C's probably turned in their best performance of the year in November when they absolutely pounded the Pacers at the uh, Financial Institution of the Month Center. Of course, this isn't the same Celtics team. Paul Pierce has been out over a month and Wally Szczerbiak just returned. We all remember Tony Allen leaving the floor a few weeks ago which helped the Pacers escape Boston with a win in their last meeting. Notice I said escape, because the C's were coming up big again. Maybe it's the Larry Joe Legend factor with Boston, I don't know, but strange things seem to happen when these teams meet.

For all of my paranoia, the Pacers should take care of business on Tuesday night. If they want to play any factor in the Eastern Conference a game like this is a must win and should simply require a professional, workman-like effort to secure the W. Here's Bruno's preview:

  • Ahem, Bruno mentions how the trade with the Warriors was more like bringing in six new players instead of four because of the emergence of Granger and Marquis. Man, that sounds familiar. Great minds think alike.
  • Marquis Daniels remains day-to-day with knee tendinitis. Hopefully a couple of days off will have him ready to play.
  • Bruno has some more interesting information his Caught in the Web piece. Bob Chaikin, a statistician with raw DBA skills and the premier NBA game simulator around, has determined that the Pacers' recent trade should be worth five extra Ws this year. Sounds good to me. I'd say the Pacers are about one up so far, so four more to go.
    Chaikin took each personnel group, ran the numbers through 100 season simulations and came up with the average results. The old Pacers projected to an average finish of 40-42. The new Pacers, on the other hand, project to 45-37. By Chaikin's purely scientific calculations, then, the trade will be worth five more victories this season.
  • Have you checked out Chaikin's bballsports.com site? Holy smokes! From Alaa Abdelnaby to Matthew Zunic (literally) he has all the numbers on all the teams and players, and I do mean all. Zunic, by the way, apparently averaged 5.8 points/game for Flint during the 1947-48 season. I mean, come on! Chaikin's gotta be making up some of these numbers! I've seen his work on 82games.com before so I know he's legit. Good luck dragging yourself aways from his site.
  • Finally, some good is coming out of the Palace Brawl. JO's community service sentence has developed into a long term project with JO giving his time and effort to help out kids he worked with in East Lansing, MI.
    "Fans sometimes think certain players do the community service just for the media coverage, but that's not me," O'Neal said. "We snuck in and snuck out when we did our community service last summer. I kind of grew a bond with some of the kids that were there. I just want to be a mentor."

About.com Division Reports

The fresh Weekly NBA Division Reports are up at About.com's basketball site. Here's the lineup for the weekly reports:

Line of the Night 1/28/07

Antawn Jamison continued his outstanding play of late by leading the Wizards to a win over the Boston Celtics.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Antawn Jamison3477034

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Pistons 95, Pacers 87: Simply Outplayed

The Pacers left the Palace Sunday night with an eight point loss, 95-87, although it felt like it should've been a 15 point differential. The Detroit Pistons played at a high level most of the night which the Pacers could not match. The Pistons stuck to their game plan of attacking the soft underbelly of the Pacers' interior defense and made most of the game look easy. The Pacers get a little credit for continuing to hang around and making a couple of runs when Detroit stepped off the gas. Other than that, take the loss and learn from what the Pistons exposed then get ready for the next game. Other thoughts:
  • The Pistons exposed a match up problem for the Pacers by working Rasheed, C-Webb, and McDyess on the low block. They attacked Troy Murphy, normally with Rasheed, and found little resistance. The Pacers had to go zone and really were smoked throughout the game when both teams had their first units on the floor.
  • Marquis Daniels sat out the game to rest his knee. Rawle Marshall stepped up and played 'Quis' minutes, doing a nice job on Rip Hamilton. Rip used all of his veteran savvy and veteran pull with the refs to maintain an advantage over Rawle, but he had to work for it.
  • Again, the Pacers reserves were involved in the best basketball of the night for the blue and gold.
  • JO got it rolling in the fourth as the Pacers tied the game up. Everything ground to a halt after JO picked up his fifth foul. Around the same time Murphy and Dunleavy re-entered the game and you could see the Pistons' energy change. They were licking their chops to get the ball on offense.
  • JO was forced to return with four minutes left but couldn't be as aggressive on defense and the Pacers couldn't get closer than four points.
  • Chief Webber had a real nice game just filling the cracks in the paint with put backs and nice ball handling. With the Pacers and JO in particular forced to help on interior defense, Chief rarely had a body on him. He took advantage with seven offensive rebounds.
  • Jamaal Tinsley played pretty well most of the game, but again, had some head-scratching possessions down the stretch the resulted in turnovers and no points.
  • ESPN showed a picture of Colts' coach, Tony Dungy from his playing days at the University of Minnesota. He played basketball for one year and was a Freshman roommate of Pitsons' coach Flip Saunders. Tony was rockin' the 'fro back in the day!
  • The Pacers return home to play the Celtics on Tuesday.
(Photo: D. Lippitt/Einstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

Line of the Night 1/27/07

Zach Randolph littered the stat sheet with goodies in the Blazers 2OT win over the Grizzlies.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Zach Randolph42122021

Pacers 102, Raptors 84: Second Half Run Away

The Pacers used a tried and true formula for their third win in a row Saturday night. After falling behind in the first half, the Pacers rallied to dominate the second half and cruise to a 102-84 victory over Toronto. I'm looking forward to watching a replay of the game, well, at least the second half. Mike Wells' recap describes a game similar to the comeback victory over Miami last Wednesday. With Darrell Armstrong and Danny Granger coming alive after the half, the Pacers had more than enough fire power to wear out the Raptors, who were playing the back half of back-to-back games.

Rick Carlisle enjoyed the second half:
"In the second half, I thought we got tougher defensively, more tough-minded," Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. "We got to a lot of loose balls that we didn't get to in the first half. We picked it up in the second half; that was the difference in the game."
Jermaine O'Neal continues to enjoy the new look roster and team's ability to spread the wealth as displayed last night with five players in double figures:
"We're starting to get it together," O'Neal said. "We've got a lot of offensive threats out there. We have a fine mix of everything. We don't have too much of anything, which is very beneficial to us."
The trade's feel-good momentum will be tested Sunday night with a trip to the Palace to take on the Central Division leading Pistons.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Raptors

The Pacers welcome the Toronto Raptors who arrive in Indy after beating Boston Friday night in Toronto. The Raptors come to town has one of the hottest teams in the league having won five of their last six games to reach .500 and surge ahead in the not so stellar Atlantic Division. Since returning from injury Chris Bosh has played at a high level and was voted as a starting forward for the East in the All-Star Game. Bruno's preview discusses the fact that Bosh beat out Jermaine O'Neal who many (me, me, me!) think deserved the start if based strictly on merit. JO isn't quite as upset as I am:

"He's a young, upcoming guy; he's the future of our league," O'Neal said. "I take my hat off to Chris. I'm proud of him. I know him and his family very well. I have no problem coming off the bench behind Chris Bosh."
The Indy Star has a similar article with more Bosh/JO mutual adoration. Bosh's take on his All-Star selection over JO:
"With all respect to Jermaine, he's a good player, he's been in this league 10-plus years and he's really proved himself to be a bonafide All-Star and a superstar in this league and for fans to notice me, it's kind of mixed emotions," Bosh told Toronto reporters. "I kind of ask why, but at the same time, I appreciate it."
  • Despite the kind words from JO and Bosh, I'm sure they'll be amped up to take on each other Saturday night. Both players really went at each other in the first meeting. Unfortunately, they were a little too focused on the one on one battle and ended up playing out of sync, missing shots and turning the ball over. Hopefully we'll see the same effort with a higher level of play this time around.
  • The Raptors ran the Pacers out of the gym in their first meeting at Toronto. That game is a distant memory since the Pacers have a drastically different team now.
  • Freddie Jones returns to the Fieldhouse. Much like Austin Croshere, Freddie should get a warm welcome. Unfortunately, also like Cro, Freddie may not see the floor much. He's really fallen out of the rotation as several young Raptors have begun to flourish ahead of him.
  • Cornrows is heading down to the Bloomington, IN area this afternoon for the night so post game reaction will be delayed until Sunday.

Line of the Night 1/26/07

Ice, my brother from another mother, was chastising me for handing out two LoNnys in a row to guys with no treys. I am, after all, a sucker for the 3-ball and it often is the deciding factor. Well, thanks to Jamal Crawford I can make up for the past two picks in one night. Crawford scored nearly half of his 52 from behind the arc and led the Knicks to a shocking drubbing of the Heat.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Jamal Crawford5231028

Friday, January 26, 2007

Jack's Legal Issues Resurface in Michigan

When I saw the headline, Judge rules Stephen Jackson violated probation, an uneasy feeling developed in the pit of my stomach. Call it a reflex. Then I had my first true, thank-God-the-Pacers-don't-have-to-deal-with-Jack's-issues-anymore sense of relief hit me. Funny though, it didn't relieve the disappointment like I thought it would. Yes, I'm viewing this one from the cheap seats since Jack's day-to-day issues no longer impact Ws and Ls for the Pacers. But I guess my rooting interest in the guy hasn't fully evaporated since the trade.

What? Why should I care? He's not the Pacers' problem any more? You want me to be outraged by Jack's behavior and dance around because his legal issues are no longer tied to the Pacers. Sorry, it's not that easy. I love basketball and enjoy the unique talents different players bring to the game. With my own life and issues to deal with, I have no interest in weighing the social ramifications of a two guard's behavior. Besides, what if he's not as bad as you think he is.

You may call it a con, but several months ago I saw genuine remorse in the guy's eyes. I decided to judge him only by his actions from that day forward. No, he hasn't been perfect but you notice effort and change. You know what a guy can bring to the court and you invest some emotion in pulling for him to turn the corner, keep the craziness in the past. He's doing what he does within the context of the NBA game, gets a fresh start in a better situation with a chance to really expose his sweat-earned and God-given hoop gifts. Be all he can be. The big picture is nearly in focus. Then, bam! Here comes the Judge! Here comes the Judge! Roll the Palace Brawl footage. Don't forget the Club Rio disaster, rehash it point by point. Broaden the impact to add Jack to the list of problems chipping away at the moral fiber of society, whatever that means. We've been through this drill before.

That what makes today's ruling tough. Yes, Jack should be held to the letter of the law and take responsibility for his actions. You just hope he can deal with this without wiping out all of the strides he's made in the past couple of months. I certainly don't want him to get any special treatment. I just don't have the desire to revel in the sorry situation.

Line of the Night 1/25/07

Ben Gordon led the way to nice Bulls' win over the sizzling Dallas Mavericks.

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Ben Gordon3065200

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Trade Impact Felt By Players Who Did Not Move

A week ago, the Pacers-Warriors trade analysis was in full swing. Some felt on raw talent alone, the Pacers were robbed. Others felt that adding outside-shooting role players and losing players with some drama baggage gave the Pacers a better deal. After a week and three games, there's no complaints on either side of the deal as both teams see a brighter future ahead.

The key to the Pacers' positive outlook is the impact felt by the remaining players on the roster. By moving Al, Jack, and Runi, the Pacers were able to unleash Danny Granger and to a certain extent Marquis Daniels. So in essence, the trade gave the Pacers Murph, Mike D, and Granger as starters along with solid bench contributors in Diogu and Daniels.

For the season, Marquis Daniels is averaging almost 17 minutes/game and 5.8 points/game, but since the trade his minutes have jumped to 28 per game with 14 points/game. Prior to the trade 'Quis' minutes were sporadic since he had to scrounge for time off the bench with Granger and Saras. Early in the season he was also adjusting to a new coach and team, so often looked out of sync with his teammates. With the logjam cleared, Daniels is first off the bench behind Dunleavy and Granger. He's taking advantage of the opportunity by playing much more aggressive and making his unorthodox mid-range game work.

Danny Granger has been the real beneficiary of the trade. Jermaine O'Neal is having a great season, but with his bud Al grumbling and Jack's dominating personality dictating the mood of the team, there seemed to be a constant simmering tension that occasionally bubbled up in some corner of the locker room. Al didn't want to be option #2, he wanted to be #1b with JO being #1a. Granger's growth in his second year was being stunted by sitting behind, and at times deferring to, Al and Jack. Now the lid has popped open on his opportunity and he is flourishing as a bona fide #2 scoring option to compliment JO.

So with 'Quis and Granger stepping up, the new faces are allowed to blend in and develop their role on the team without feeling pressure to fill the exact void left by Jack and Al. Thus far, Dunleavy and Murphy appear to enjoy the team game and moving the ball without regard to their stat line. Neither seem like they'll go "Artest" and create shots without regard to the offense. Looking at the absolute talent-for-talent aspect of the trade, Golden State certainly did well. But so far, the current Pacer team's value is larger than the sum of its parts which is evident by the style of play and the buzz of the crowd returning to the Fieldhouse.

(Photo DG/JO: Victor Baldizon/NBAE via Getty Images)
(Photo MD: AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Line of the Night 1/24/07

Plenty of big numbers thrown up around the Association last night. Multi-tasking gets the nod as Pau Gasol displayed all of his tradeable assets with a triple-double in the Grizzlies' OT win over the Jazz.

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Pau Gasol171312210

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)

Line of the Night 1/23/07

The Sonics didn't have enough for the Nuggets, but Ray Allen did what he could. 6-17 from 3-land? Gotta applaud the effort.

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Ray Allen
4435036

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Heat

Once again, the Pacers' are expecting Shaquille O'Neal's return when they play the Heat. Last Thursday in Miami there was noise about Shaq's return. With the Pacers broken up by the trade it made sense for Shaq to skip the game. A few days later and Shaq still has not played, plus Dwyane Wade missed the Heat-Knicks game on Monday. Wade is expected back while Shaq's return is a mystery. After so much time off, maybe it wouldn't hurt the Pacers if Shaq played. The rest of the Heat would have to get used to having the big fella on the court again which could disrupt the style they've been playing without him. Call me Mr. Positive. Here is Bruno's preview.

  • Jermaine O'Neal seems happy with his new running mates. Like everyone who watched the Pacers beat the Bulls, JO realizes Dunleavy and Murphy are a nice fit for the Pacers' offensive system and could really make it hum with more familiarity. He does his best to avoid disrespecting his ol' pal Al while complimenting Mike D and Murph. Don't worry JO, we know what you mean.
    "What’s most important to us right now is to get everybody comfortable, get everybody on the same page, and really get geared up for the second half of the season, because that’s what really counts," said Jermaine O'Neal. "You have to be willing to believe with the guys that we have. These guys are really built for a system, Troy Murphy, Ike (Diogu), and Mike Dunleavy, all those guys are doing very well in our system.

    "We all seem to play well off of each other, not that Al (Harrington) and those guys, we didn’t mesh -- it wasn’t like that -- but considering I didn’t know much about the guys, they’re perfect for the system that we have. If we were going to trade guys like we traded, those would be the perfect guys to trade for."
  • Darrell Armstrong was fabulous against the Bulls. His 38-year-old legs can't do it every night, but when he's up for the effort he's straight relentless. Carlisle enjoyed watching his mini-KG from the bench.
    "I've been around the NBA for a long time and Darrell Armstrong is Kevin Garnett in a 5-10 body," Carlisle said. "He gives that kind of energy. He has that kind of unbridled enthusiasm for the game and for his teammates. He's a guy that was written off so many times before he got to this league. He's got a heart as big as Conseco Fieldhouse."
  • Jamaal Tinsley's status for Wednesday night is day-to-day. On the telecast of the Bulls game, Chris Denari mentioned that Tins wanted to go on Monday night but the training staff wouldn't let him.

Line of the Night 1/22/07

Kobe Bryant carried the Lakers to a fourth quarter comeback over Golden State.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Kobe Bryant 4281124

Monday, January 22, 2007

Pacers 98, Bulls 91: DA Runs the Show

The Pacers finished the first half of the season by holding off a late charge from the Bulls to win, 98-91. Darrell Armstrong stepped in for an ailing Jamaal Tinsley to lead the Pacers to a desperately needed W. Fresh and familiar faces alike, came together for a second quarter outburst that put the Pacers up by 17 at the half. From there, the Pacers had to fight off Ben Gordon and well, pretty much just Ben Gordon, but he was playing like there were two of him on the floor. In the end, the Bulls could get no closer than four points. Here's a full recap of the game. Other game thoughts:
  • Tins missed his first game of the year. Hopefully the flow of the offense was due to the new faces fitting in with the team and not just because Tins was out.
  • With the score tied 30-30, JO hit a jumper with 7:50 left in the half. From there (including JO's bucket) the Pacers outscored the Bulls 30-13. Thirty points in less than eight minutes? Not bad for a slow, grinding, controlled offense.
  • Marquis Daniels provided several nice buckets in the Pacers' second quarter run. He has a real knack of getting the ball within 15 feet of the bucket and creating nice little shots for himself.
  • Troy Murphy joined Dunleavy in the starting lineup moving Jeff Foster to a reserve role. Murph's offensive presence puts more pressure on opposing defenses.
  • Mike D played some point in the second quarter to give DA a breather. He does a nice job in the half court sets. Can you say post entry pass?
  • JO was JO with 22 and 10. After a bucket and a foul sent JO near the baseline seats, a few beer toting suits enticed JO into some celebratory high fives and he obliged. I feel sorry for all of the employees in the area tomorrow who will have to listen to how their boss gave JO a high five.
  • Darrell Armstrong finished 16 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
  • DA played a huge role in closing out the Bulls late in the fourth quarter. First, on consecutive Bulls' possessions DA drew an offensive foul on Hinrich (fouled him out) and then Gordon.
  • With 35 seconds left and a five point lead, DA missed a 3-ball. Nocioni grabbed the rebound and threw the outlet pass but Armstrong snuck in and stole the ball. Foul. Free throws. Ball game.
  • The Pacers will have the full attention of the Miami Heat when they visit Conseco Fieldhouse on Wednesday.

Links of Note

The Carnival of the NBA #40 - The Bill Laimbeer Edition is up at, where else, Detroit Bad Boys.

Also, don't forget to check out the Weekly NBA Division Reports on About.com's basketball site. Here's the lineup for the weekly reports:

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Bulls

Jamaal Tinsley's dream of playing all 82 may end tonight.

For a Bulls' point of view, check out Blog-A-Bull.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Troy Murphy is ready to feast on the Eastern Conference and start rockin' the double-double art form he has displayed in the past. Murphy drives home his intentions with a quote Ahnuld Schwarzenegger would envy.
"I like to do it," he said. "I'm going to do it here."
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mitch Lawrence digs into the trade ramifications and suggests this may be the biggest trade in Pacers' history. His sources indicate that Stephen Jackson's impact on the the off court decisions of his teammates was pointing some young Pacers in the wrong direction, namely Danny Granger, and a team culture change was necessary by any means possible.
...Jackson had been among a group of players who were seemingly more interested in enjoying the nightlife in various NBA cities on a regular basis than they were in trying to get the Pacers into the playoffs.
Hmm, I wonder who else was in that group? Certainly helps explain the erratic backcourt production.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Bethlehem Shoals had an interesting Pacer post at the NBA Fanhouse the other day regarding Larry Joe Legend and Rick Carlisle not seeing eye to eye on the Pacers' talent and how to use it. I think it's a bit of a jump to say Carlisle and LJL aren't on the same page based on disgruntled player comments. I have a hard time believing LJL would've done much different with Saras or Jack. Plus, Jonathon Bender's career flame out had nothing to do with Carlisle and more to do with the fact that JB was rarely, if ever, 100% healthy when he suited up. But, having said that, Carlisle should be on his last chance to lead a change in direction.

I recall Bird discussing his vision shortly after joining the front office. He indicated he'd like to put together a team that could put five versatile players on the floor at once. Artest, Harrington, Jackson, Bender, Granger, even Shawne Williams all fit the description of athletic, multi-faceted players Bird envisioned. For several reasons, they haven't worked out. Artest went Artest. Harrington and Jackson have their limitations. Bender had bad knees. So, when those pieces aren't the right fit to run and create mismatches, Carlisle is stuck trying to make something else work. Fair or unfair, Carlisle is starting a new plan again, but if the team remains stagnant LJL needs to try a new sideline leader.

One More Win to Go!!!


(Photo Addai: Doug Benc/Getty Images)
(Photo Jackson: Indystar.com)

Line of the Night 1/21/07

Hmm, pick a Sun any Sun. Shawn Marion hasn't been considered for many LoNny's this year, but gets the nod since he dabbled in all of the key stats on the line, including grabbing 20 caroms.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Shawn Marion 17203211

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Line of the Night 1/20/2007

Just another huge game for Allen Iverson, as the Nuggets take care of the Rockets in OT.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Allen Iverson 36310042

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Knicks 108, Pacers 106: Discombobulated

The Knicks had a couple of chances to bury the Pacers, but the blue and gold kept coming back only to fall short in the end as the Knicks held on to win, 108-106. This games felt like it was part NBA regular season, part NBA preseason, and part meet 'n greet. Unfortunately, the 'L' is 100% NBA regular season. While the Pacers can be excused for not playing well, this is a bottom line league and they've still lost three in a row and are back at .500. Here are some random thoughts on an odd game:
  • The first half was like a preseason tryout with everybody playing at least a few minutes. Several offensive possessions saw guys running into each other or playing a little tentative not knowing where a teammate might end up.
  • Mike Dunleavy started at SG which was a bit of a surprise. I guess they had to split up the new guys a little bit in the rotation. MD's 14 third quarter points and nice work on the high screen/roll may keep him starting as the Pacers move forward.
  • Dunleavy found plenty of open looks and created a few of his own. I really like what he can bring to this offense.
  • As advertised, Dunleavy leaves little to be desired on the defensive end. He actually had nice position for an offensive rebound and was getting pulled on as he went up to snare the board. The ref must've figured there was no way he could pull that off and promptly nailed him with a foul.
  • Murphy played about as advertised with a double-double in 23 minutes. It was really nice to see someone other than Jeff Foster grab an offensive rebound and put it back for two. Murph looked like he hadn't shot a free throw in months. The stroke was more of a yip.
  • Ike Diogu played a few minutes in the first half and looked good in the post, but had a couple of turnovers trying to do a little too much.
  • At halftime we learned that the best player Jamaal Tinsley has ever faced is Ed Smith, NYC playground legend.
  • Stephon Marbury played a real nice brand of point guard and the Knicks as a whole looked much improved. Zeke has to get a little credit for making an impact on the team in general, and Marbury in particular. Marbury went down real late in regulation, hope he's not hurt too badly.
  • Eddie Curry is a beast.
  • David Lee is a menace.
  • Jermaine O'Neal and Danny Granger continued to play strong, with 25 and 19 points, respectively. JO had a hand in fouling out both Channing Frye and Eddie Curry.
  • Knicks donated 20 turnovers to keep the not-firing-on-all-cylinders Pacers within striking distance.
  • Jamaal Tinsley did a nice job getting the Pacers back near the lead late in the game. As often happens, he got into a one-on-one duel with the opposing PG (Marbury) and ended up forcing a couple too many drives in the lane.
  • Ron Ron finally made his way back to Detroit. Knowing the national spotlight would be on, Ronnie didn't disappoint coming out in a Tru Warrier mohawk. Oh, and the Kings were blown out by the Pistons. Distraction?
  • The Pacers stay at home this week but with the Bulls, Heat, and Raptors coming to town it won't be easy. At least they'll have time to practice.

(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

Meet the New Pacers

Pacers.com has an introductory video greeting from all of the new Pacers. Obviously they didn't prepare a script for these things.

Meet Troy Murphy
Meet Mike Dunleavy
Meet Ike Diogu
Meet Keith McCloud

Atma Brother ONE is at is again for Golden State of Mind getting hyped for the analysis to cease and the play to begin for the Pacers and Warriors. AB 1's giddiness over losing Murphy and Dunleavy continues to give me pause, since he's probably seen them play more than anyone else I've heard comment on the players.

As always, I'll wait to review an on court sample of data before I get too excited or down on the deal. Finally, the time is here.

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Knicks

Jack and Saras took their shots at Carlisle's coaching yesterday. I've seen these guys bounce pass the ball directly to the other team enough to know it wasn't all the coaches fault.

The new Pacers joined their teammates for practice yesterday. Keith McCloud will start his Pacer career in street clothes on the inactive list, but Murphy, Dunleavy, and Diogu are expected to play against the Knicks on Saturday night.

Jermaine O'Neal is rumored to be on the trading block despite zero indications from the Pacers that this is anything more than a rumor. Seems bogus since the pieces they recently added appear to be a good fit to surround JO in the post.
Blowing Up The Pacers: Informed sources near the Pacers situation suggest that Jermaine O’Neal may be a lot closer to being dealt than even he will admit. A few weeks ago he announced to the press that if he could not get the Pacers turned around and winning, maybe it was time for him to go. That seems very likely to happen this summer, although a handful of GM’s and scouts say it could happen before the trade deadline. One informed source hinted that Marcus Camby or even Brad Miller could be parts of a J-O package deal, as the Pacers have at times expressed interest in both players – Camby likely as bait for a third team, and Brad Miller as a solid dependable foundation piece. With marquee talents like Vince Carter, Jason Kidd and even Pau Gasol possibly available now, don’t be surprised to see Jermaine’s name surface as the deadline approaches. If the Pacers could return Brad Miller and Vince Carter for Jermaine, or Brad Miller and Kevin Martin for a Jermaine package – that might be just enough to jump start Indiana, or at least give Pacers fans players they can cheer for.
At least give Pacers fans players they can cheer for? What? With the way JO is playing this year, how can you not cheer for him? Remember the Montieth mantra -- Rumored trades rarely happen and the trades that happen are rarely rumored.

The Knicks come to town after tough, one point losses to the Wizards and Nets. The Pacers beat the Knicks in their previous two meetings.

Line of the Night 1/19/07

Marcus Camby came up big last night at the Nuggets rolled against Cleveland despite a tidy triple-double from LeBron.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Marcus Camby 26172210

Friday, January 19, 2007

JO Takes the Lead

JO is getting the hang of this leadership thing. A couple of weeks ago he said what everyone was thinking -- this ain't working. He was criticized here and elsewhere for using the media for in-house complaining, but the team did win three straight games following the comments.

A huge change was made and JO is now left standing as the unquestioned leader of the team and focal point of the offense. It's tough to see friends move on to other teams, but changing the makeup of the team makes it easier for JO to assert his presence as a leader on the team. Al Harrington joined the Pacers in the offseason with plans to be an equal partner with his buddy, whereas Murphy and Dunleavy arrive knowing full well that their role is to compliment JO. The dynamic is completely different. Now is the time to build up his supporting cast with confidence to leave it all out on the court with him. These quotes after the Heat game do just that:

(On the end of the game) “Guys made big plays. Jeff Foster carried us for the last two minutes. Marquis Daniels, Danny Granger, and Jeff Foster carried us all night; especially Jeff Foster. He had three consecutive three-point-plays which is big considering they were nine to 10 points ahead. We have to feel good about the effort considering we came back against a really good Miami HEAT team.”

(On Danny Granger) “In order to be a real good team you have to have one, two, or maybe a three good [players] to excel. I think Danny Granger did a really good job preparing himself for tonight. He looked tremendous on both ends of the floor. I think he is up for the challenge. When opportunity calls you have to answer the door and I think he is doing that right now.”

JO has left it out on the court too, playing through an aggravating ankle injury. He appeared to be moving around better on Thursday nigh, so hopefully the worst is behind him.
------------------------
Dunleavy for Magette rumors were rampant after the initial trade went through, forcing the parties involved to set the record straight.

"Absolutely untrue," Pacers CEO Donnie Walsh said Thursday.

"I talked to Indiana today for 45 minutes and there was no talk of any kind of deal," the elder Dunleavy told Los Angeles-area reporters. "He's there because they want him there."

Walsh denied the rumor and more on Chad Ford's Daily Dish podcast. Great discussion of how the trade came about and stayed a secret. Plus, the plans for the new look roster. Great stuff, give it a listen.

DA Ready to Help Colts Beat Patriots

Darrell Armstrong concedes he's not the best field goal kicker in town (no, not shooter, kicker). Second best? Definitely. DA knows he's good from 50 yards out and plans to go to the AFC Championship game. If Adam Vinatieri is kidnapped by some overzealous Pats' fans before Sunday's Colts-Pats games, then DA will be ready to kick.

Just another reason why it's great to have DA (or as Slick calls him 'Army') on the roster.

Line of the Night 1/18/07

The Mavs made sure the Lakers don't get too excited about their standing in the Western Conference. Josh Howard did the damage along with some help from Dirk.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Josh Howard 29115122

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)

More Pacers/Warriors Trade Fodder

Man, after listening to Charles Barkley's TNT takes I sure feel better about Pacers' end of yesterday's trade. TNT also had the first comments I've heard from Jermaine O'Neal. He's in a tough spot because if he complains about the trade, which would pile on his previous complaints, he's seen as a malcontent. If he expresses excitement and renewed enthusiasm he ends up slamming his buddy Al. In essence, he said that the trade hurt him personally because of losing Al, but he completely understands from a professional standpoint.

Golden State of Mind continues to follow up with plenty of trade talk. This Winners and Losers post has some quality pictures of Dunleavy. More "Funleavy" pics here. Maybe this guy should wear a bike helmet when he's on the floor.

Al Harrington took time out on his way to the Bay Area to fire a shot at Carlisle's coaching style and his displeasure with the Pacers' offense. Stay classy, Al. I missed the part where Baby Al took any responsibility for his erratic level of effort and production. Yes, Carlisle planned to play an uptempo brand of ball this year mainly because he thought the players could handle it. Unfortunately, pulling the ball out of the net slows the tempo. Coughing up ugly turnovers and not being able to finish fast break opportunities also slows the tempo. Al had plenty of minutes and was second in FGAs to JO, so maybe it wasn't the system but the players in the system. Al should enjoy the run at all cost style of Nellie so why not keep his yap shut on the way out of town. Al claims the only upsetting part of the trade is that he just finished fully furnishing a new house and now has to move again. I wonder if Al had any mirrors in that house because it sounds like he hasn't looked in one lately.

Pacers Insider has some great trade thoughts from Mark Montieth and Mike Wells, including a not-so-Internet friendly mantra about trade information, especially when Donnie Walsh and the Pacers are involved.
Rumored trades rarely happen and the trades that happen are rarely rumored.

Finally, for a little fun, Miss Gossip at the NBA Funhouse breaks down the Jermaine O'Neal for the NBA hair watch. Braids or no braids? Not hard to figure out my preference. Plus, the Caesar cut combined with his boyish face make JO look 18 again.

A Few Pacers Play the Heat Tonight - More on New Pacers

The Pacers have an important game tonight at Miami, but will be shorthanded as the ex-Warriors make their way to Indy. Not worried about Shaq returning anymore since it probably won't matter. All focus is on the Pacers trade now anyway. Actually, in Indy all of the focus is on the Colts and Patriots. Whenever the Colts' run ends there will be a lot of casual Pacer fans tuning in and asking, "Where is Al Harrington and who is that skinny, shaggy-haired kid?" Here is Bruno's preview that is actually trade talk. Here is more on the former Pacers.

Larry Joe Legend is actually starting to take some heat for his moves over the past couple of years. You have to at least give him and Donnie Walsh credit for cutting their losses and admitting when they’re wrong. Well, they don't come out and say it but their actions speak for them. LJL/DW didn’t waste any time with James White when they realized he wouldn’t work out. To be fair, Artest wasn't brought in by LJL but he certainly had to deal with the him. The guy wasn't easy to move so he tried to put the best public face forward. Eventually Artest burned him for good. Now, they admit Al doesn’t work well with JO and Saras didn’t offer what they expected. They just didn't have the right pieces and wanted to make a change.

While admitting mistakes is admirable, it sure would be nice to hit a home run one of these times. Finding a late first round or second round pick that becomes a big time contributor ain't easy but I'd say the Pacers are due. My confidence level in a rejuvenated Mike Dunleavy or Troy Murphy is non-existent. I'd like to know what kind of health assurances they received with regard to Murphy. He misses games and still doesn't appear 100%. Let's say there are no more trades this year, if Murphy misses 15-20 games due to injury it could be ugly at the Fieldhouse.

The salaries per year for Murphy and Dunleavy are roughly the same as Harrington and Jack, with the big exception that they both last one year longer. I still don't think it is that big a deal (especially since I'm not cutting the checks). The keys to the deal for the Pacers are getting something from Ike Diogu and getting some consistent outside shooting from Dunleavy and Murphy. Al and Jack could score but they weren't reliable night in and night out and certainly didn't compliment JO's game. If Murph and Dunleavy can provide a consistent inside/outside compliment to JO then we're on to something.

As for Diogu, his game was not built for Nellie Ball so it's not hard to see how he was lost in the shuffle in Golden State. With all of the bunnies the Pacers have missed around the hoop this year, I'll be stoked if Diogu can come in an grab a couple of boards and put the ball back in the basket. Is that too much to ask?

Line of the Night 1/17/07

There were better lines last night but nothing spectacular, so I'm going with Brandon Roy as he mounts a charge for the R.O.Y. BRoy got it done on both ends of the floor to help sink LeBron and the Cavs.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Brandon Roy 19104061

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

He Who Laughs Last...

First of all, now that the unexpected shock of this trade has receded, I’m still not excited about the players coming in but I can’t get myself riled up about any perceived imbalance with the deal either. Let’s face it, looking at the black and white numbers of a stat sheet, Golden State should feel very good about this trade and it appears their fans do. You have to check out the greatest trade analysis post in the history of the NBA blogosphere by Atma Brother #1 over at Golden State of Mind.

After reading AB #1’s hyped analysis, I had to go back and check the trade details. (Using Allen Iverson “Practice” tone of voice) We’re talking about Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson, man. We’re talking about Al Harrington and Stephen Jackson. I mean, I’ve seen about 35 Pacer games this year and I have no idea who they think they’re getting. Ironically, Al had one of his best performances at Golden State in a game the Pacers stole on a buzzer beating 3-ball by Stephen Jackson. Maybe they think that’s how those guys bring it every night.

I was planning to do a pro and con look at the players leaving, but GSOM covered all of the pros (and don’t get me wrong, these guys have value) I was thinking about and a few others even Al and Jack don’t realize they have. So to provide a little reality check for the Warrior faithful, I thought I’d point out a few areas of concern that may have led to Larry Joe Legend and Donnie Walsh saying, “Deal!”:

Josh Powell is a nice player to have on the bench. He played his way onto the roster in preseason with plenty of praise and comparison to Udonis Haslem of the Heat. Powell was a non-factor in the regular season, so there's nothing negative to say other than he's all potential at this point.

Saras (a bonus for me is not having to write around the word Jasikevicius) never seemed like the player we saw running around in the 2004 Olympics draining unconscious 3-balls. One problem that was exposed this year is that Cabages is more comfortable shooting from inside the arc in the NBA. He's only shooting .372 from 3-land this year (which is an improvment over last year). Another problem area is a serious lack of quickness. He is a well known defensive liability, which actually may not be a problem with Nellie Ball. Saras loves to dazzle with the pass and can on occasion. He also burps up turnovers that look pretty silly with the attempted dazzle. So you have a slow, two guard in a PG body who doesn't light it up from behind the arc. The freedom of Nellie Ball may just save his career, we'll see...

Al "The Big Thirst" Harrington served two tours of duty in Indy. He intitially arrived on a veteran team and was dubbed Baby Al. He even lived with Antonio Davis' family and had AD's wife pinning reminders to his shirt like her other kids. All that was expected of Al in his first few years was to work on his game and be the face of the future for the Pacers. Well, with all of that work and no play, Baby Al was a little too excited when he got his chance. He had so much to prove, his mind would race ahead of his body. He wanted (actuall still wants) to be an All-Star level player but just couldn't put it all together and with Artest in the lineup, Al's chance to start wasn't going to happen.

Al went to Atlanta and played well, which I think was due to the fact that all of those people back in Indy that he wanted to impress weren't around. He had a fresh start and was able to show what he could do. Then he returns to Indy with the confidence from his play in Atlanta. Now he can prove he's the player everyone expected to eventually develop. The problem is, he's not quite as good as he thinks he is. Al's shooting an incredible percentage from behind the arc this year, but he still gets ahead of himself and out of control when he's trying to finish. His overall FG% matches his 3 pt% and I guarantee you most of the misses inside the arc are on bunnies within 3-4 feet of the bucket.

So, there is a lot to like about Al's game but he's inconsistent. Some nights he plays like the Big Thirst and other nights he plays like Baby Al. Obviously, the change of scenery will help him the most, but don't expect him to accept a straight play defense and rebound role. He wants to be the man and will go into a funk when he's not getting his touches. We just went through this act a couple of weeks ago when he told us he'd go "Artest" which, in the context he was using it, meant to force the action when the had the ball in order to get off some shots. Great smile, great guy and for that will be missed.

Stephen Jackson, like Al, is high maintenance. He plays on an emotional edge which is anything but steady. This also leads to inconsistent production when you sometimes have to ask, "What is Jack doing out there?" He has been on his best behavior this year, so the stop in his tracks complaining has been minimized (which is tough because the guy gets absolutely no calls). But with the new emphasis on complaining and the little issue of TWO PENDING COURT DATES, you can tell he's making an effort to project a positive image. Give him credit, he's done pretty well, only getting suspended once for insubordination. Not bad. The off the court image issue with the Pacers and fans is blatant so there's not much else to say. One final point of concern is that there are far more opportunities for trouble in Oaktown than in Indy.

On the court, Jack is a 6'8" shooting guard but he rarely plays that big. In fact, Carlisle recently lamented the fact that Al and Jack don't impose the physical size mismatch against their opponents often enough. Post play just is not their forte. Jack is a classic streaky shooter which works if you can get him to stop shooting when he's cold, although that's not an easy task.

Bottom line with Jack is, his play couldn't make up for the poor light he cast on the franchise during training camp. I see negotiations playing out like this:

Mully said, "OK, how about Powell, Saras, Harrington and...Stephen Jackson."

Bird replied, "Excuse me, did you say Jackson?"

Mully, "Yes."

Bird, "Deal! Now who are we getting?"

Good luck to all of the former Pacers and good luck to all Warrior fans. I hope you make the playoffs.

Change is a Good Thing

The Pacers and Warriors have reportedly agreed to an eight player trade. Plenty of analysis left on this one, but my initial reaction (after WOW!!!) is that this trade shakes the team to the core and that's a good thing. Trading two starters and another heavy contributor off the bench is HUGE. Add to the fact that Stephen Jackson was part of the deal which will help from a PR stand point. Can't say I'm real excited about the players heading to Indy but it should immediately help offensively. The defense wasn't exactly stellar prior to the trade, so if the Pacers have a few more consistent scoring options it can't hurt.

OK, that's enough, plenty of time to review contract baggage and what each player can bring to the table. For now, time to embrace the change.

Line of the Night 1/16/07

Tracy McGrady did everything he could but the Mavs were still able to add another second-half, beat-down victim to their list.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Tracy McGrady
4557114

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Another Change in the Lineup?

In the Indy Star's Pacers Notebook today, Mike Wells discusses Marquis Daniels starting the second half against the Nets in place of Al Harrington. The Big Thirst has been a little frustrated lately as it is since he can't seem to sync up with JO to become a devastating front court duo. So the initial thought is -- uh, oh, more drama ahead. Ironically, in the preview for the Nets game, Carlisle discussed his starting lineup needing to exploit their physical size advantage on smaller lineups. Oops, I guess quick can beat big also. Mike seemed content with the explanation that this was a one time switch in order to put a quicker defender on Richard Jefferson. Carlisle wanted to downplay any speculation of a starting lineup change:

"I was just trying to match up with their quickness," Carlisle said. "I thought (Daniels) did a good job defensively and offensively in the third quarter."

After reading the latest Pacers Insider post, it appears after further consideration Mike isn't so sure about Carlisle's explanation. Mike's thought process mirrors mine -- Harrington is the best candidate to sit but that seems like change for the sake of change. Bringing Granger and Daniels off the bench for a change of pace works much better plus all of the players have settled into these roles. Let's not forget, the Pacers were playing some decent ball until they failed to show up in Jersey. There's no reason to panic and make changes over that mess.

Line of the Night 1/15/07

Gilbert Arenas was grilling some lunch time treats on his famous mini-grill. 51 points with 7 3-balls including the game winner? Now that's my kind of line!

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Gilbert Arenas5135017

Monday, January 15, 2007

Nets 105, Pacers 95: There's Always Slick

Since today's Pacers-Nets was not televised locally, I listened to the radio call of Mark Boyle and Bobby 'Slick' Leonard. Slick is a local legend to all generations in Indiana because he played on the 1953 IU championship team, coached the Pacers to three ABA titles, and has been a long time color commentator with a style that easily entertains the listener. While he's past his prime, the down home twang in his voice combined with a unique analysis often ends up producing gems like his signature call for a three pointer, "Boom baby!" He often just delivers simple phrases reacting to the action or talks as if he's speaking to a player right in front of him. His twangy voice rises easily and his rhythmic laugh just makes you laugh.

You no doubt, have read various live blogging accounts of sporting events by bloggers watching the game and commenting on the action and the announcers. But how about blogging a radio call? While listening to the first half, I decided I needed to share the wisdom of Slick, so I started blogging the second half as described on the radio with Mark and Slick. Unless otherwise noted, all of the quotes are attributed to Slick. Oh, and the Pacers stunk all day, losing 105-95 but it wasn't nearly that close. Slick was the only thing that kept me listening and he didn't have much material to work with today.

- Before I get started, here is a link the Martin Luther King's 'I have a dream' speech. Offers a little perspective on where we were, where we are today, and where we want to go. Also, helps dull the pain caused by a certain underperforming NBA team.

- Now that you're inspired you might as well laugh. Here is an interview with Elie...Seckback on The Basketball Jones podcast. If you don't know who Elie Seckback is just go to youtube.com and search for "Elie Seckbach NBA" then enjoy the show.

BEGIN THIRD QUARTER: NJ 63 - IND 42
- First "Boom, baby!" for a Tinsley 3-ball. "We're trying to make an effort." Always an optimist, even with the lead only cut to 18. Tinsley quickly whistled for a foul. Oh, well.

- "Get in! Mmmph." Slick on a missed 3-ball by Jack.
- Boyle: "Kidd is WIDE OPEN for a three." Slick: "Jamaal is guilty out there, he's guilty." 68-47
- Richard Jefferson picked up three fouls in less than a minute. Must be thinking about his post game plans.
- Slick describes a Foster foul on Vince Carter: "See, Jeff doesn't block shots but he still sticks his hands in there and when he sticks his hands in there, it's a foul." 70-48
- Slick on JO missed FT: "JO, you're banging 'em out there today, baby."
- Marquis Daniels makes a slashing layup: "OOhhh! Way to go Marqy."
- Mikki Moore answers with a jumper: "Ahh, this guy..."
- "Absolutely no excuse for us coming in here and being down 25." Preach it, Slick! Preach it! 79-54.
- Mark Boyle mentions a "noticeable lethargy" at the start of this game in response to Slick. Fabulous.
- JO and Mikki Moore assessed double-Ts just prior to a timeout. A little jawing from a couple of emotional bigs.
- Al Harrington 3-ball: "Boom, baby! He got one!"
- Vince Carter 3-ball puts Nets up by 27 at 86-59. The Pacers' improved defensive effort of late seems to have taken a step or ten backwards today.
- Boyle mentions this one is slowly but surely getting away. You think?
- "I'm glad to see Marquis Daniels getting some playing time today. If this kid, if this kid could get, I mean a really good 16-18 foot jumper, he'd be really good." Yep, really good shooting guards can actually shoot the ball in the NBA.
- With full dauber down, Slick laments: "Danny doesn't have his jumper today."

BEGIN FOURTH QUARTER: NJ 88 - IND 63
- If
Hibachi boy hadn't put up 51 earlier today, Vince Carter and Jason Kidd would be dueling it out for LoNny honors. Of course, they're probably done for the day so it shouldn't be an issue.
- "There it is, baby." Baston finishes off a break opportunity.
- Pacers get it down to 18 after a Granger three. Trying to remain positive.
- "Ahhh...oh, boy. That's a soft rim isn't it?" After Marcus Williams coaxes a 3-ball in.
- "Got 'em. That's it, Al." Apparently Al Harrington made a shot. 93-74.
- Saras shoots a 40 footer as the shot clock winds down, "Ooomph."
- "Six and a half minutes to play...Come on, Danny. I could take about a six point run." I could take about a 16 point run myself.
- "Boom, baby! He'll come with 'em now." Saras hits a 3-ball to cut the lead to 15.
- TO Nets, time to wake up Kidd and Carter on the bench and get them back in there. Three seconds into their return the Nets score.
- Mikki Moore follows up a Carter miss for another score. "Who's got him? Who's got him? You better find him and block him off the board."
- Silver lining of this nightmare is that JO has been able to rest his ankle for the bulk of the second half. 100-83.
- Boyle mentions it must annoy Lawrence Frank to be forced to put the starters back in the game. Slick: "Well it doesn't annoy the coach as much as it annoys the players."
- "Runi made one there. That was big time, Run (pronounced Roon)." Saras makes a 3-ball.
- Orien Greene makes a layup. "Ooo, baby, he took that baby in there flying. Man, I wish he had a jump shot." So, that's two guards who need to grow a jump shot.

FINAL SCORE: NJ 105 - IND 95
Slick sums it up: "We weren't up on people, we weren't aggressive and then it was just coasting." Couldn't have said it better myself.


(Photo: Ray Amati/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA Division Reports are Up at About.com

Don't forget to check out the Weekly NBA Division Reports on About.com's basketball section. Here's the lineup for the weekly reports:

Line of the Night 1/14/07

The Mavericks continue to perfect the art of the second half comeback, driving everyone they play nuts. Dirk did his part in the Mavs win over the Raptors.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Dirk Nowitzki38115323

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Waiting on the Pacers vs. Nets

The Pacers celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day with a matinee at New Jersey Monday afternoon. Despite the gut wrenching loss to Dallas on Friday, the Pacers level of play has risen lately so this game against the Nets offers another chance to take a step forward. Here is Bruno's game preview. The preview raises a couple of points:

  • Rick Carlisle feels his starting line up should take advantage of the size advantage they often have in the individual match ups. I think the Nets pose a different challenge since the match ups are pretty even from a straight physical stand point. Of course, Jason Kidd has the size and quickness advantage going for him which always makes the Nets a tough win for the Pacers.
  • Carlisle often gets criticized for his reluctance to let his team loosen the reins on offense and though he talks about wanting the team to run in reality prefers to call plays for the half court set. Well, this quote kind of ruins the basis for those criticisms.
  • "We went to a lineup which is, in my opinion, is as physical a lineup as there is in this league," Carlisle said. "If you look at it man-for-man, Jackson is bigger than his man most nights, Al is always bigger than his guy, Jermaine is almost always taller and stronger than his guy and Jeff is equal usually in size and has a quickness advantage a lot of nights. And (Jamaal) Tinsley is above-average in size. We have to take advantage of that aspect.

    "We have the ability to go smaller and player faster but it's important when we have that group in there that we're playing a physical game at both ends, getting to the free-throw line, and with no diminished emphasis on stops and running. You've got to run to get easy baskets. I have been a staunch believer in that and it's no less an emphasis for us. But our lineup situation has changed our overall outlook just a little bit. We've got to play to our strengths."
  • The point about easy baskets from the above quote is just plain common sense. If the Pacers had a couple of bread and butter half court plays (like say, Dallas does with their two man pick and roll/pop) it might be different. But, often getting a solid look and completing the play out of the half court set is like pulling teeth. They've improved lately because the defense has stepped up which leads to more easy baskets on the other end.
  • Jason Kidd has been on fire lately. Last week he followed up a 23 point, 11 assist, 14 rebound game against Chicago with a 24 point, 13 assist, 6 rebound game against Minnesota.

Looking Back on 40 Years with the Pacers

The Pacers are celebrating their 40th season as a franchise. Mark Montieth looks at 40 significant moments in the Pacers history, from their roots in the ABA through the modern day NBA. There are several interesting tidbits from the past, including the fact that no one knows who scored the first basket in franchise history.
Bob Netolicky, Roger Brown, Oliver Darden, Freddie Lewis and Jim Dawson were the starters when the Pacers first took the court against the Kentucky Colonels on Oct. 14, 1967. All but Dawson have been asked, but none remembered. The statistical crew did not keep detailed play-by-play records at the time, and the newspaper accounts did not mention it.
If you can help us solve the mystery, let us know.
Looking the the event timeline, it's obvious what a different world the NBA was during the pre-Bird, Magic 1970's. After joining the NBA in 1976, the Pacers would do about anything for publicity to keep the franchise afloat.

July 3, 1977
WTTV-4 conducts a telethon in the 500 Ballroom of the Indiana Convention Center to "save" the franchise, which is struggling on the court and at the gate. The event helps sell 8,000 season tickets.

Sept. 12, 1979
The Pacers release Ann Meyers, who still ranks as the only woman to try out for an NBA team. Meyers, one of the greatest women players of her era, was brought in on orders from owner Sam Nassi, who believed she had a chance to make the team.

Can you imagine today's Pacers holding a benefit telethon FOR THEMSELVES? With a $70 million payroll, I don't think they'd get too many calls.

Line of the Night 1/13/07

Plenty of LoNny-worthy lines on Saturday night. Dwyane Wade gets the nod for leading the Heat to a road win at Utah.

PTS REB ASST BLK STL3-PT
Dwyane Wade31110261

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Mavs 115, Pacers 113: Pacers Whistled for a Loss

The Pacers needed one more shot to fall to take down the NBA’s top team but couldn’t get it done, eventually falling to the Mavs in OT, 115-113. The Pacers led throughout the game and seemed poised to finish off the Mavs unlike a week ago when they completely folded in the fourth quarter. This time the Pacers waited until the final two minutes before coughing up the lead. Here is the Indy Star version of events. Other items of interest:

  • Mark Cuban won't be filing a complaint about the refs from this game. It was breathe on Dirk and get a foul night at the Fieldhouse. The superstar treatment let Dirk do his thing and don't get me wrong, he was incredible. But the disparity in calls was glaring.
  • The key no call against the Pacers was on a rebound put back attempt by Danny Granger with about five seconds left and a tie score. Granger was hit on each arm by two different Mavs and the refs swallowed their whistle. After all of the touch (and some no touch) fouls offered at the other end it was tough to take.
  • This has been the trend all year. In the officials ridiculous hierarchy of respect based on talent track record, the Pacers get none. JO vented a little post game steam while discussing a supposed foul he had on Dirk.
    An incensed O'Neal screamed, "I'm not a rookie!" at one of the referees after the call. He was still frustrated in the locker room afterward.
    "I didn't touch him; didn't even touch him," O'Neal said. "It just kind of looked like (the referees) wanted them to win. I'd just appreciate it if they'd look at it both ways. We play hard, too. That's the most frustrating thing about it. We don't get any calls.
    "Sometimes we get treated like we're not even a basketball team," he said. "It's absolutely ridiculous. We're basketball players, too."
  • As much as I just complained about the refs I can't pin the loss them. Sure they were a factor, but the game was still there for the Pacers to win despite the refs impact. Tins missed a couple of free throws. Al and Tins both missed decent looks inside five feet in the final few possessions. They weren't easy shots but the kind you need to make to win. Jason Terry made an equally challenging runner off the glass as the Mavs were again impressive making winning plays down the stretch. Dirk and Jason Terry made tough shots and the Pacers couldn't match them, bottom line.
  • The Pacers have a day off before going to New Jersey for a MLK Day matinee with the Nets. JO will need every minute to tend to his ankle. Hopefully he'll be ready to go Monday. He's been playing through some serious pain but his presence on the court alters the game even if he isn't 100%. With no back-to-back games for a couple of weeks maybe he can make some progress with the ankle and keep giving some valuable minutes.

(Photo: Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

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