One night after a stirring comeback win, the Bobcats fell to the Pacers, 101-98. Granted, it was the second half of a back to back, and on the road, too, but Indiana was without Danny Granger, making this game tougher to accept.
The Pacers simply had better ball movement, better passes, more open looks... it was a clinic for much of the game, led by Professor T.J. Ford. The Cats kept it close with a few key advantages and made a tight game of it in the fourth, staying in the game until the final possession, but, ultimately, it just wasn't enough to overcome the other holes they'd dug.
Highlights and lowlights after the jump.BAD
-- Did Boris Diaw hit rock bottom last night? No, he did not. Tonight? Not quite. But the Knicks game may have been a precursor to tonight's stinker. While he was 3-3 from the field with 8 points, he had 0 rebounds and only 1 assist, all in 36 minutes. On the final inbounds play, with 1.4 seconds remaining in the game, he received the inbounds pass from Flip (why wasn't Gerald inbounding?) and then, instead of shooting the three for the tie, passed it on to Augustin, who had no chance to get his shot off before buzzer. Furthermore, Troy Murphy -- a guy I love, by the way -- absolutely torched Boris and whoever else was guarding him. Murphy ended up with 26 points and 15 rebounds, including 5-7 from three.
-- Stephen Graham: 15 minutes. Gerald Henderson? Derrick Brown? They combined for 0. Lovely.
-- It's interesting that Larry Brown is okay with letting Ronald Murray be himself. As quoted in the Observer, Brown's perfectly fine if Murray shoots his way out of slumps. Flip's probably earned that right with his play over the years, but what strikes me about it is the base notion that it's no use trying to force Flip to change dramatically, that LB is a better coach if he deploys his player based on his established strengths and weaknesses instead of expending energy trying to change him and putting him in positions where he'll be expected to be someone he isn't. I appreciate coaches who do that, because they're acknowledging that they are not all-powerful and can't work miracles.
So why the double standard with D.J. Augustin? He was a certain player in college. He was a certain player in his rookie year. He's not a pure creator and he's not a rugged defender, but he can handle the ball and facilitate the offense and shoot the lights out! Sure, it'd be nice to try to imbue him with some of those qualities, but Damon Stoudemire made a long career for himself as a point guard without being exceptional at any of that. Same for Eddie House, if you want the role player example. Why tear D.J. down from that kind of player to try to rebuild him into something else? He'd probably be better off in a triangle or D'Antoni or Donnieball offense, but just because our offense is best run by an all-around creator doesn't mean he can't be a productive player in said system.
-- The defense couldn't stop T.J. Ford, or anyone really, from creating good shots. The Pacers made 35 field goals, and 29 were assisted, 13 by Ford. They were 48% from the field overall and 12-24 from three. Ouch. I'm probably thin-slicing, but I think I'm developing a fear of smaller, relatively faster, point guards after seeing Will Bynum and now Ford vivisect our defense.
-- Will someone please inform basketball officials that when Tyler Hansbrough splays his arms and curls his legs as he goes up for a layup under the basket, it's probably not a foul, but just something he does to get foul calls. I don't mind if he does it for emphasis, like when Gerald thinks he's being shoved around and he snaps his head back on screens, but every time? Really? That's the secret to getting to the line so much?
-- Gerald Wallace scored 29 points and had 12 rebounds. There just isn't much more to say about him... except that he's slowly moving from underground aesthetic hero to underground dark horse All Star candidate.
-- Tyson Chandler had the kind of game we hoped he'd bring at least twice a week. 13 points and 13 rebounds, while getting to the line for 9 free throws. For purposes of both this entry and the Boris entry, I'm conveniently ignoring that Indiana's big man defense is, reputation-wise, atrocious.
-- The Cats were 30-40 from the line, which gave them a huge advantage over the Pacers, who were only 19-26.