Pacers smash Mavs to keep beards on

Select members of the Dallas Mavericks (led by Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter) were so desperate to get rid of their beards, which they vowed to not shave off until their team got back to 0.500, that they got OJ Mayo's barber on standby, just so they could get a shave as soon as they beat the Indiana Pacers and reach their goal.

Not so fast, says Paul George and the Pacers, who put up a second half clinic to run away with the game, 103-78. Did the Pacers feel disrespected? Maybe, but I think at this stage of the season, with Danny Granger ruled out until next training camp, they are just focused on the task at hand — that is, clinch the second seed and head into the playoffs on a high note.

Paul George simply toyed with the Mavs defense at times en route to a game high 24 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 3 steals on 10-17 shooting. Roy Hibbert continued his strong play of late and had 16 and 11, shutting down the Mavs from the defensive end in the second half along with former Mav Ian Mahinmi. 

David West was back in action after missing 6 games with a back injury, and the rust was definitely there, as evident from the 7-point night and 1-4 shooting from the free throw line. He seemed a little winded out there, actually. Fortunately, Tyler Hansbrough was there to pick up the slack with an energized 13 points and 9 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

George Hill had a much better game and finished with a solid 10 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists and Orland Johnson was the key man off the bench with 12 points (seriously, this guy has to be the second round steal of the last draft!).

I must say I was surprised the Pacers got both this win and the won against the Rockets the night before, which enabled them to hold on to the second seed over the Knicks — for now.

The get another supposedly "easy" game against the Suns next, but after that it's the Clippers and Oklahoma City. The team's final four games of the season are against Brooklyn, New York, Boston and Philly. The Knicks have won 7-straight despite injury woes and play Charlotte next, so they will be hard to hold off.