So before we get the ball rolling I have to take time to acknowledge Nick Friedell of ESPNchicago.com for using the greatest nickname of all time of White Mamba for Brian Scalabrine. Kudos to you sir!
Now letís talk about our Pacers.
We lose as a team we win as a team. Or to quote the great Frank Vogel ďWe are not afraid of the Chicago Bulls. They certainly have Derrick Rose but we believe that a TEAM with great depth can beat any one player, can beat any 'Big 3', and we are not gonna back down from that challenge in any wayÖWe can win the EastĒ.
Ok show of hands, how many of you at the half had already written this off as a loss? I will freely and shamefully admit right here and now that I was already lining up the excuses about why we lost the game and what steps we needed to take to correct the ship.
We of little faith.
This isnít your Indiana Pacers team of the last few years. Heck this isnít your Pacers team of the last decade. These guys are proving night in and night out that they are a team that is serious and has to be taken seriously. This isnít the same team the Bulls beat last year in the playoffs and it isnít even the same team they beat in pre-season.
Yes yes I know Luol Deng didnít play & Taj Gibson didnít play. Who cares? The M.V.P. played, their super high priced power forward played, their defensive ace center played and their off season starting shooting guard played. If they canít win with that then they have more problems than one loss to the Pacers.
Speaking of the Pacers victory let me describe to you what happened right after the game ended. As Danny Granger was walking off of the floor David Benner came up to him to get him to go see Mark Boyle to do the post game radio show. Danny turns around and is headed back to the table to talk with Austin & Mark when he seeís Derrick Rose staring at him. Danny then proceeded to blow kisses to Rose and then untied his shorts strings and proceeded to urinate on the Bulls logo at center court.
What, this didnít happen? It had to because this is what the M.V.P. had to say in his post game interview. ďI will never forget how they celebrated just from winning this game. I canít wait to play them againĒ.
Whatever you think you need to get motivated Derrick, donít stop believing. How about this, how about our guys remembered how your chuckleheaded center was whooping it up at the end of the last series. Or the celebrating you guys had after game 4 in Indianapolis last year. Believe me I was there, your team didnít just walk off the floor at the end of the game. There was plenty of celebrating going on at your side of the floor.
But like I said, whatever it takes to make you motivated. Like we are supposed to be scared that the M.V.P. will play like the M.V.P.?
Also while I know it is not your fault maybe our players were just tired of your obnoxious bandwagon chasing fans and decided to give them a little taste of their own medicine.
Enough talk of the Bulls letís dissect this beauty and tonight letís do it in the good the bad and the ugly style.
Roy Hibbert: This is getting to be old news around here. Same old same old if you will. Dominates in the post, plays solid defense without fouling and is getting his share of rebounds. Ho Hum just another day at the office for the man in the middle. However I want to make sure that we donít just gloss over this because prior to tonightís game Noah was to Roy what Tyler is to Carlos Boozer. In other words he previously had owned him. Even in the pre-season Noah was just pushing Roy from stem to stern and totally would take him out of the games. However whatever has been going on with Roy for tonight anyway Noah meant nothing to him. He might as well have been White Mamba (God I love that nickname) trying to guard him as much success he had trying to stop Royís hook shot. BTW, when did he become Kareem type good with that shot? Anyway Roy made it so Noah could not leave him, he could not free lance and double away from him and he made Noah work all night long.
Itís too early in the season to make any kind of proclamations but at what point in time is it going to be ok to ask if Roy Hibbert is the second best center in the NBA? Now donít get me wrong Iím not saying it, but if he continues at this level of play up to and after the all star break? How can it not be a question? Also if anybody not named Roy Hibbert is the backup center in the east for all-star game then the fix is on.
Danny Granger: I knew it, before I ever turned on the Digest I knew the words I was going to read about Danny would be that Ronnie Brewer scored at will and that Deng wasnít there and that his defense is poor and he is an average shooter at best and inconsistent no matter what.
Instead of talking about how Danny was not only our leading scorer hitting over 50% from the field while going 75% from behind the three point arc that he was also our leading rebounder and had a huge steal at the end of the game to put a final end on tonightís festivities. No itís a lot easier just to continue hating on Granger because he doesnít fit into certain peopleís definition of what a star player is. Well guess what guys; our team is not built around star players. Itís built around team and Danny Granger needs to be given all of the praise in the world for doing everything in his power to adapt and become part of that. He has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is all about winning and not about his own stats. He also proved that when he needs to step up, he will. Oh and btw did I mention to anyone here that he outscored Monta Ellis in the Golden state game?
Chicago is a great defensive team. In fact I am very close to saying that Thibodeau is the best coach in the NBA not named Vogel. So you know that they had two things in mind to start the game. Stop Roy in the post and stop Granger, the Bulls failed to do either and if we are going to give Roy credit for overcoming the Bulls defense than Danny should also have praised heaped upon him for not only not being stopped by the Bulls but for only scoring 2 less points on 3 less shots than the reigning M.V.P.
Paul George: Nights like tonight are the reasons nights like last night drive me up the wall. It is all there. He is the total package. I told everyone at the party last weekend that he was the most disappointing player for me so far but not because heís played bad but I just honestly believe he could be so much more. If I could take one trait from Danny and give it to Paul it would be the fire for the game that Danny has. Reggie had it and Danny has it to. They get mad and they play at so much of a higher level and are pure killers. But here is the thing neither probably had the talent and physical tools that Paul has. Oh well why lament, letís just enjoy tonightís outburst (if you can call 13 points an outburst). Obviously someone has sent him the message that if you are going down the lane you dunk the basketball if you can. Itís not showing off (although if you put enough pepper on it you can) it is just taking the highest percentage shot you can. He had some very solid defense in the second half to go along with his offensive production and I loved watching Rip run him from side to side and pick to pick during the game. This will only make Paul better and maybe it will teach him how to move without the ball.
David West: He awoke from his one game slumber with a vengeance. What was better the power dunk right on Noahís head or the oleí defense that Carlos Boozer played to let David ďSkip to my LouĒ West blast by him like a rocket? If Rose wants to be mad about something he might want to go look at tape of Carlos Boozer playing defense on that exchange. Anyway once again he is proving that veteran leadership has almost no price tag you can put on it. He once again just made the big plays when it counted and that block in the 4th quarter to save the reverse layup was just as spectacular as the dunk was. Roy was huge, Danny was great but we donít win this game without David West. You want to bet how valuable this guy will be come playoff time? Young legs are great, talent wins for sure but sometimes it is the old solid vet who knows exactly what play to make.
Tyler Hansbrough: Finally. I wondered prior to the game if maybe seeing Boozer (notice a pattern here) on the other side of the court would be the elixir that would sooth whatever wounds he was having. Still not the greatest of offensive productions from him, however we have got to start getting Tyler some post up looks. Too often we are getting him the ball at the elbow or top of the key and he really needs to work in the post a few more times to get the kinks out. But while he didnít have an offensive explosion he did help on the boards (BTW we beat the NBAís leading rebounding team 44-41) and played good solid defense. If we can get him trending back upwards that will go very far in helping the overall team production.
Darren Collison: There were a couple of times where I had to check to make sure his jersey didnít have the number 4 on it as he seemed to like to dribble a lot tonight. But the defense he played in the second half and the free throws he made helped me look past this for tonight. Also he had as many assists all by himself than our entire team did last night. Great effort in a very tough environment.
Dahntay Jonesís pass: Ok his overall game was neither good nor bad; however once again I want to emphasize the guy has been under control now for the better part of three weeks. But he cut down the lane and everybody in the building and at home and on planet Mars knew that he was going up for a contested shot. But wait, he fooled everyone and made a picture perfect pass to a cutting Hansbrough who was fouled in the act of shooting. Jones doesnít get an assist for this play but it really was a very nice pass and helped stave off another Bulls run.
George Hill: Um, yea whatís up with this? Look Iíll give him tons of slack here because for a good stretch there he was just absolutely killing it on the floor. But I think Iím ok in saying that both last night and tonight George had a couple of bad games. Heíll be back though. Sometimes itís just not your night and this wasnít his.
Lou Amundsonís offenses: Iím not throwing his entire game in here because I like his defense and rebounding for the most part. But letís all just say that Frank made the right call in limiting Lou to just 5 min. tonight.
Join me brothers and sisters of the Pacers Empire, join me in joyous dancing and merriment.
Ok that is two statement games in a week. Iíll just sit back now and wait for the haters to tell me why this game shouldnít mean anything.