The Pacers leading with less than a minute less against one of the elite teams in the NBA – the Orlando Magic.
But Jameer Nelson drew a foul and hit a tough shot to put the Magic ahead and they came away from Conseco Fieldhouse with a hard faught win.
In many ways, this game was a glimpse of hope for the Pacers. They were able to get stops. Roy Hibbert, for part of the game went toe to toe with the best big man in the game, Dwight Howard.
The Pacers showed that they aren’t going to give up, and most of all, that they want it. They played hard throughout the game, and even down 8 in the fourth quarter, kept digging in on defense, hustling for loose balls, and eventually put themselves in a position to win the game.
They didn’t even shoot well. For a projected lottery team to hang with a title contender, you would suspect some hot shooting from the Pacers. Yet the Pacers couldn’t buy a three pointer, and if they had just shot reasonably from deep or even the free throw line, they could have walked away with a victory.
This was certainly a tough loss, but in an 82 game season there are tough losses that can be taken as positives. They hung in with the Magic and made them earn everything.
They even took away some respect from their opponent’s coach.
“I think Indiana is good…it was a very tough loss for them,” Stan Van Gundy said. “I’d be surprised if Indiana isn’t a playoff team, with Hibbert getting better and Granger. We’ll see them in the postseason.”
If the Pacers play as hard and as tough-minded as they did last night, he just might be right.
The Pacers continue a tough test of games when they take their talents to south beach Monday to face the Heat.