This was a scary game for the Indiana Pacers. For starters, they were without PG Darren Collison (ankle) and Mike Dunleavy (wife having a baby). The LA Clippers were also on a horrible 7-game losing streak, meaning they were desperate and dangerous.
Fortunately, the Pacers were on their game tonight and pounded the Clippers 107-80.
- Danny Granger is finally starting to realize just how good of a defensive and all-round player he can be. Against the Clippers, he Granger scored 22 points and also filled out the rest of the box score with 7 rebounds 5 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks with 0 turnovers. Most importantly, he held an initially hot Eric Gordon (who had 11 in the first quarter, including a vicious dunk on Hibbert) to 19 points on 5-17 shooting. Great sign that Granger is playing good D and leading by example. As a team the Pacers blocked 14 shots!
- Roy Hibbert continued his strong play with 18 points (9-13 shooting), 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, but he did have 6 turnovers. However, he did have 0 fouls in 31 minutes! Finally, the Pacers look like they’ve got another star. If Big Roy can keep up his ascension and stay healthy, I have no doubt he can be an All-Star.
- Solomon Jones did not play. Great idea. The reason is probably because Jeff Foster is finally back! The dependable veteran will never be what he once was after back surgery (and let’s face it, he was always a utility player anyway), but he was solid today with 2 points (making his only shot), grabbing 4 rebounds and blocking 2 shots in 12 minutes. Hopefully he can keep up this kind of effectiveness off the bench.
- Paul George appears to be out of O’Brien’s dog house. He played 16 minutes and had 4 fouls to go with 3 points and 3 rebounds.
- Brandon Rush finally had another decent game after struggling since his debut against the Nuggets. Tonight he had 14 points, 5 rebounds and 5 blocks in 28 minutes, but he did have 4 turnovers.
- AJ Price played again tonight in Collison’s absence and was great. He played only 21 minutes but had 14 points and 6 assists against just a single turnover. Play him every night JOB!!!!
From here, the road gets rough for the 5-5 Pacers. They take on Orlando on Saturday at home in a game that will be very difficult for them to win, but if Hibbert can stay out of foul trouble and keep Dwight Howard in check and the rest of the team can find their offensive flow, a victory is not out of the question.
Then, the biggest test — a date in Miami with the Heat. And after that, a rematch with the Cavaliers, then tough games against the Thunder and the Lakers. No one is expecting them to win all those games, but the Pacers are already doing a lot better than what people have been predicting. Here’s to hoping they can keep proving the experts wrong!