First off, forgive me if I miss anything, it's such a long drive home...
Was it just me, or was that game a breath of fresh air?
It was great to see Mike back in the lineup. Right off to begin with he shown why (in my opinion) he deserved the most-improved award last season. After almost scaring me to death by tweaking his ankle early in the first quarter, Dun-Dun overcame a limp to score 9 points in only 12 minutes. He then sat out the rest of the game and let Brandon Rush and Stephen Graham steal the show.
Rush, who has really put a lot of energy into this new Pacers team, blew my mind again by making some tough jumpers. For the past few games, I really didn't think he was capable of doing that so early. For someone who said he wanted to be the next Reggie Miller, I had, and don't all throw things at me for saying this, but deja vu this evening. (Rush even had the wrist bands on both wrists like Uncle Reggie) Brandon led all Pacers' scorers with 17 points. What really got me, was his ability to kill the Grizzlies' defense. 2 blocked shots is something that I wouldn't imagine him being able to do. I really didn't think that he would have a strong inside defensive presence.
When I heard that, my jaw dropped. Mainly because he did it two more times. I've always been down on Graham. I never understood why they front office gave him a contract extension. His brother Joey is coveted in Toronto, but I just never saw it in Stephen. He made 5 of 7 of his shots and hit 75% behind the arch. Graham came up with some great offensive plays. He played with a lot of energy and made no mistakes.
Rasho and Foster, heh, (I didn't bring my glasses tonight) looked awfully similar. I am not using the word "awfully" as a word meaning they stink, they just looked like the same player. These guys looked the same in more ways than one, actually. Jeff and Rasho put up almost identical numbers. Jeff still shouldn't be going after perimeter jump shots, but he hit a few that got the Grizzlies where it counted. Nesterovic got in the lane early and got a couple of great put-backs and I really think that if it came down to it, I want Rasho as our starting center. He has remained consistent, and can score down low. Our main point of focus for our big men is low-post scoring, and so far I don't see much of that happening.
Speaking of the post, Roy Hibbert had a couple of great looks down low. Everytime he gets down there, whether it's at the T.V. or in person, I yell, "TAKE IT!" He needs to get more chances in that part of his game. He didn't do bad at all tonight. His game doesn't need much tweaking except for the low post. He can shake off the defenders, but he can't finish. The kid isn't slow, and he sure knows how to work it defensively. There isn't much but praise I can say about Ol' Roy.
Hibbert did exactly what I said he needed to do, and that was to not foul. I mentioned the fact that he he was doing great and didn't have any fouls, I should have kept my mouth shut. The next 3 fouls were on him, and they were quick. The good thing is they were late in the game, and it probably wouldn't have mattered if he fouled out twice, because we kept the Grizzlies from coming back.
"All I want for Christmas is a starting 1 guard."
All last winter that was going through my mind, and almost anyone else bleeding blue and gold. Santa delivered Christmas in July, because T.J. Ford is more than I could ever want in at the 1 position. Ford knows how to get the most out of a fast break. For the second time this preseason, I got to see an alley-oop. Yes, the same alley-oop they did in the movie Semi-Pro. I don't know why I am so amazed to see such a thing, players in the NBA are doing it all the time. Wait, we have a point guard that can set one up and find someone to "alley" it up to. Tonight it was Brandon Rush. That play resulted with 1 of his 6 assists. He isn't getting as many assists I'd like to see out of our starting point guard, but that is because there is a lot more passing. It's like I'm watching the movie Hoosiers. Sheesh, you can tell it's late, I've already referenced two movies...
Jarrett Jack has calmed down a little of the razzle-dazzle in his game and focused on fundamentals. He isn't trying to put on a circus driving the ball down the court. I did notice that he kind of gets a little sporadic with his passing, which frightens me, but it's close to Halloween so I'll let it slide...for now. Jack finished with only 2 points, but 7 assists and 5 rebounds for our number 2 guy at number 1, he has been very fun to watch coming off the bench for T.J. Ford.
Danny played more minutes tonight, and he still is showing a little bit of rust. The last post, I said that he was out of his slump, but I really don't think it was a slump to begin with. I was asked a few times why Danny is wearing the sleeve on his left arm, well, it's a little sore. I'm not going to put down his efforts while he is playing through a little pain. With all those things in mind, he didn't have a bad game. Granger only shot 33% tonight, but had 12 points, meaning that he is getting to line more often, which is good.
I do want to mention that Austin had a good game. This is just what he needed to do to boost his potential value to the team. If he wants to make the team, regardless of who we play he needs to act tough. We know he is capable of making some good, highlight-worthy plays.
This game hopefully was a testament to what is to come. It was really fun to watch these guys, not just because we won, but it's been quite some time since I've seen players in Pacers' uniforms working so well together. Like I said, it was a breath of fresh air. That or beer and popcorn...
HIGHLIGHT REEL MOMENT:
Josh McRoberts had a face smashing slam dunk in the fourth quarter. Yeah, it was that good.
ODDS AND ENDS:
The fieldhouse had a little higher attendance than Wednesday's game, at over 10,000 people. They for some reason opened the curtains at the East and West end, exposing the windows. I don't understand this move, since it was dark, but it definitely was different. Now they need to try this during FanJam or at least a day time game. I don't see the sense in having windows and having them always curtained off.
I'd like to give a shout out to Hicks and Roaming Gnome from pacersdigest.com. It was nice to see you guys and thanks for sharing your thoughts with me on the game.
- Turnovers were a little lower than the other night. We only commited 17, one less than Memphis. I guess this is a plus.
- Memphis had too many second-chance opportunies. There were too many times where we couldn't get the ball out of their hands after the missed shot(s).
- The Pacers committed more personal fouls than Memphis. Within about 7 minutes left in the first quarter we were already in the penalty. I think we were far more worse with personal fouls in the third quarter as well.
- Marquis Daniels started the second half for Mike Dunleavy. He scored 2 points in almost 9 minutes.
- Troy Murphy and Travis Diener sat out for the fourth time this preseason.
- The Pacers play in San Antonio tomorrow night. Tip-off is at 8:30 PM. No T.V. broadcast.