When you are the Indiana Pacers and you’ve been in the lottery for three straight seasons, there aren’t many wins you take for granted.
They haven’t come frequently and Pacer fans have seen their share of disappointing losses in the last few seasons, so when you get a win you appreciate it.
However, this game against the Clippers last night is not one to get too pumped about. The Clippers started a college basketball starting lineup. The oldest player in the lineup was 22, and three rookies started.
Not only that, but this was the second game of a back to back, their record is now 1-12, and they just didn’t seem all that interested in competing in this game.
But a win is a win and something can be said for taking care of business in a game you should win. The Pacers certainly did that and had plenty of positives to take from the game.
The biggest positive I took from the game was Danny Granger being the leader that the Pacers desperately need him to be. The first quarter was ugly. The Clippers had their share of nice dunks and were getting all the loose balls.
Eric Gordon was ripping the Pacers defense to shreds. Brandon Rush started out on him and Gordon could get to the rim or get an open shot whenever he wanted. Clips led 25-22 after the first quarter.
But in the second quarter, Danny Granger matched up with Gordon. Granger played aggressive and physical and Gordon couldn’t get anything going. This is two games in a row where Granger has visibly taken pride in locking down the opponent’s best scorer.
If the Pacers want to make a jump into the level of a playoff team, they will need that type of on-court leadership from their best player.
One last note: It was great to see Jeff Foster back. If Solomon Jones is not the worst player in the NBA he has to be close. The dropoff from Hibbert to Jones has badly hurt Indiana so far this year. Having Foster back, doing what he does – defense, energy, rebounds, loose balls – will significantly improve the Pacers second unit.
The Pacers improved to 5-5 with the win, but are now staring an extremely difficult string of games in the face. The stretch begins Saturday night with Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic coming to the Fieldhouse.