View Full Version : Some bright spots in otherwise foggy season

02-15-2010, 11:00 PM

Some bright spots in otherwise foggy season

By Bruno • February 15, 2010 • 11:09 AM

I'd like to be able to offer a thoughtful, detailed analysis of the Pacers as they exit the All-Star break for the final 30 games of the season.

In fact, I'd love to be able to do that, but I can't.

I haven't seen the Pacers this season, at least not the team we expected to see when camp convened in October.


The primary lineup – T.J. Ford, Mike Dunleavy, Danny Granger, Troy Murphy and Roy Hibbert – has not started a game together and probably won't. There have been 20 lineup combinations, only a few by choice. No lineup has started more than seven games together, and only two have gone as many as five in a row.

Nobody wants to hear about injuries, illnesses, etc., but that doesn't make them any less a reality.

So how, exactly, do you analyze a team when you haven't really seen that team?

"It doesn't matter," said Jim O'Brien. "This is our team. The guys that have uniforms are your team. That's what I'm analyzing. I can't worry about guys that are (not playing)."

Some bright spots shine through

Though frustrating, the season has not been without its bright spots.

The biggest has been the progress exhibited by Roy Hibbert.

As a rookie, he averaged 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds; those numbers are up to 11.1 points and 5.9 boards. Last season, his highs were 19 points and nine rebounds. This season, he has seven games of at least 20 points and eight double-doubles.

Perhaps most significantly, he averaged 10.2 fouls per 48 minutes last season, compared to 7.2 this year.

A.J. Price has been a revelation, securing a place not only on the roster but firmly in the team's future plans with a strong audition in January and early February. For a player drafted No. 52 overall, that's a remarkable showing as a rookie.

Brandon Rush has emerged as a consistent (!), steady producer at shooting guard. Maybe he's not headed for stardom but he looks no worse than a very solid complementary player with strong defensive skills and a picturesque 3-point stroke.

And veteran Dahntay Jones is quietly having the best season of his career – by far – averaging 11.3 points (more than double his career average), showing he is much more than just a defensive specialist.

That Mike Dunleavy has returned at all has to be considered a positive, given the severity of his knee surgery. Though he clearly isn't all the way back, he is on the way.

"I've seen some very positive things," said O'Brien. "We're talking about A.J., I see something very positive in Roy's development. Brandon, the last month of last season and the last five weeks of this season, Danny's emergence last year as an All-Star, Mike getting healthy again.

"There are a lot of things to point to that are positives. But when you're experiencing losing more than you're experiencing winning, then that tends to kind of cloud out the positives."

What you see is what you get

Overall, however, the numbers reflect the team's season-long struggle.

They haven't scored enough (17th in the league at 99.1 per game), foul too much (first in the league at 23.9), are consistently outrebounded (by 4.3 per game, the third-widest margin) and haven't made their trademark shot (hitting 33.1 percent from the 3-point line, ranking 26th).

And that defensive emphasis that was such a strong focus entering the year? They're 25th in points allowed (104.1) but a respectable 10th in opponent field goal percentage (.454).

Add it all up and you get a team with an 18-34 record that stands 13th in the East, 7 games behind eighth-place Chicago.

"We have adjusted to the difficulties we have had with injuries and we're trying to play winning basketball," O'Brien said. "And we hope that sometime in the near future for Tyler (Hansbrough) and certainly next year for Jeff (Foster), the guys that are playing the majority of the minutes combined with those guys will be of great help to us. …

"We're 10th in the league in field-goal defense. We foul too much. Some games we turn the ball over way too much. So we're still searching for consistency at both ends of the basketball court. But I certainly think we have been a better basketball team in the last five weeks than we were in the first two months."


02-15-2010, 11:02 PM
with a strong audition in January and early February


good god, it really does sound like we're going back to TJ and Watson. I'm not quite sure WHY the Pacers would do it. There's honestly no reason.

02-15-2010, 11:08 PM
Another bright spot will be getting rid of Troy's contract.

02-15-2010, 11:15 PM
Another bright spot will be getting rid of JOB's contract.


02-15-2010, 11:21 PM
"We wanted to see the guys play together to see what we've got."

Book it. That's what we'll hear on Friday as to why there were no deals.

02-15-2010, 11:25 PM
yeah this seems like another PR crap the pacers are sending to the fans to calm them down

02-16-2010, 11:42 AM
Remain calm...There's no need to panic! (gratuitous Animal House reference!)