November 18, 2007
Pacers 117, Jazz 97
Pacers retain their cool, put halt to losing streak
By Mike Wells email@example.com
There was no buckling this time for the Indiana Pacers. There was just a simple third-quarter timeout that didn't involve any kind of motivational speech or yelling.
While there was a sense of "here we go again" filtering through Conseco Fieldhouse, Pacers coach Jim O'Brien told his team to play the way that allowed it to get a 20-point lead against the Utah Jazz before the visitors pulled within nine early in the third quarter.
Lakers at Pacers
7 p.m. Tuesday, FSN Indiana
The Pacers responded to O'Brien and cruised to a 117-97 victory over the Jazz in their best all-around performance of the season. The victory ended a six-game losing streak.
"It feels good," forward Jermaine O'Neal said about ending the losing streak. "We played the way coach has been screaming and yelling about over the last week and a half."
Blowing leads has been a theme for the Pacers this season. Their biggest blown lead -- 24 points -- came a week ago against the Denver Nuggets. That's why it's no surprise that there was a sense of nervousness when the Jazz opened the third quarter by scoring the first 10 points.
O'Brien called a timeout after the first eight points and flatly asked his players a question.
"He just asked the guys, did the five out there want to play," O'Neal said. "We've seen those types of runs in the games we lost. We did a good job keeping our composure and playing through it. We got settled and got back to doing some of the things that got us that lead."
O'Brien went back to the five players that played well together in the first half -- O'Neal, Jamaal Tinsley, Shawne Williams, Mike Dunleavy and Jeff Foster. The Pacers responded and built their lead back to 24 with about three minutes left in the third quarter. All five players scored at least two points during a 19-4 run.
"It got a little nerve-wracking out there," Foster said. "It was a here-we-go-again kind of thing. But we were able to come back and start running."
It was one of those nights when the Pacers could do little wrong on either end of the court.
They showed what type of offensive team they can be when they move the ball, play up-tempo offense and don't play selfishly.
Tinsley ran the offense smoothly, handing out 13 assists and not making a turnover until six minutes were left in the game.
"Jamaal was great," O'Brien said. "He pushed it, really distributed the ball well. He was aggressive the entire night and kept us in our tempo. Anytime somebody has 13 assists and only one turnover, that's good basketball."
Mike Dunleavy and Danny Granger made up for their horrendous shooting the night before by scoring 25 and 19 points, respectively. Marquis Daniels and Williams gave the Pacers 17 and 16 points off the bench. The Pacers had their best shooting game of the season, making 58 percent, including 48 percent on 3-pointers.
"Tonight was the perfect example of how we should play," O'Neal said. "We did a great job on not really forcing shots, playing inside-out, moving the ball and also playing good defense."
The Jazz shot 47 percent and turned the ball over 20 times. Coach Jerry Sloan benched his starters the entire fourth quarter.
"(The Pacers) had all the energy," Sloan said. "They looked fresh, they looked like they were having fun playing. They came out and dominated the ball game. They weren't going to lose another game."
JO's line. 8 points, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 blocks. Then he said this, "Tonight was the perfect example of how we should play," O'Neal said. "We did a great job on not really forcing shots, playing inside-out, moving the ball and also playing good defense."
I love it when they play like this!