I won’t deny it. I was scared of this game. The Cavs had lost 21 games straight and were desperate to get a win, and I’m sure they looked at the struggling Pacers as a fantastic opportunity to break their drought.
On the other hand, this was an opportunity for new Pacers coach Frank Vogel to guide the team to a rare road victory. Whichever way you look at it, this was an interesting game.
When the Pacers raced out to a 10-0 start, I thought this game would probably end in a blowout. But the Cavs, through great hustle and an uncanny ability to continuously get to the line, managed to crawl their way back into the game and eventually took the lead in the fourth.
But fortunately for the Pacers, they kept their poise, and for the second game in a row, their opponents were the ones that imploded down the stretch.
The Pacers were down 108-107 when Mike Dunleavy hit a big three in transition to pull the team up 110-108. Then, with the score tied 110 apiece, Granger drove into the lane and dished it back out to a wide open Collison, who nailed another three to give the Pacers a 113-110 lead. The Cavs scored again to make it 113-112, and when Granger missed, the Cavs had a great chance to win the game.
But they came up empty twice (the Pacers were lucky to get away with a no-call on the first one) and Granger hit four free throws to complete the tight win — 117-112.
You could look at this win in two ways. One, the Pacers were horrible and were lucky to get away with a close win against the worst team in the NBA. After all, they did give up 112 points and blew an early 15 point lead. On the other hand, you could view this as a good win against a desperate team.
Collison was the star of the game again, finishing with 22 points, 9 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals, with 3 turnovers. I’m really liking what I’m seeing from the second year player, who really should have made the Sophomore team at the upcoming All-Star Weekend in LA. With Jim O’Brien gone, we’re really starting to see Collison becoming more comfortable and aggressive, and hopefully this will continue for him as he establishes himself as a leader and a big time player on this team.
Granger had 23 points but shot only 5-13, but what I did like was that he got to the line often, hitting 12-13, including those four big ones to ice the game. That’s what we need to see more of.
Hibbert also shot 5-13, which is still not good enough, but we’ll take 13 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks from him right now if we can get it.
Another great thing to see was Vogel continuing to play Hansbrough and George — Tyler played 22 minutes and Paul played 21 as both contributed 13 points.
Fantastic start for Frank Vogel as he is now 2-0 as the head coach of the Pacers. But these were two wins against two of the worst teams in the NBA. Next up is the real test — Portland at home.