There are so many things to talk about tonight. Obviously we had a breakout game by a player, a few other very good games from other players and some downright outstanding coaching from both benches.
But two things stand out the most for me tonight.
First, people we beat the NBA Champions on their court. I donít care if they are missing Chandler (he wouldnít have changed a thing tonight) and I donít care who else is not there. They are, until we crown a new one, the reigning champions and we just wiped the floor with them.
Two, & really this is several items all wrapped into one, we won another game which is now our 4th win in a row. This was our 10th win in 15 road games and this was the first win in Dallas since 2004 when Rick Carlisle set on our bench.
It can no longer be denied, we are a team to be reckoned with. I have no idea how the season will end and I have no idea what the next game will bring but I can tell you this through the first 21 games of the season we truly are one of the best teams in the league and what should scare other teams is this fact, we are only getting better and more confident.
We win as a team and we lose as a team and tonightís victory is no different. Paul George is going to get all of the accolades and by all means he certainly deserves them. However he did not play the game by himself, there were other very important players who helped in this victory.
Also if you are a fan of coaching then this matchup was for you. Both benches were playing chess and the coach with the better younger talent won. Isnít that nice to say for a change btw?
Carlisle was brilliant once again, with his rotating zone and offensive play sets. However not to be outdone by him was Frank Vogel and his mixing and matching of players. Notice how Dahntay Jones is now playing a lot at the two? Sure you could say that he was forced into this by Hill being gone but after a few years it is just nice to see a coach who recognizes a matchup issue on the floor and adjust appropriately.
BTW, I have nothing but respect for several of the Maverick players. For Gods sake Dirk was just out of his mind good and anytime Vince Carter seeís a Pacers logo he is going to attempt to score I donít care if he is 60 and doing it, he will try. Fun fact, unless things have changed did you know that Vince Carter has scored more career points against the Pacers than any other player? Also for whatever reason, even when he was in Washington Brendon Haywood plays like Patrick Ewing against the Pacers. Tonight he wasnít as effective as he normally is but again he blocked four shots.
On the scale of important games and big wins this certainly is one of them. I donít think it really is more important than beating Chicago in Chicago or L.A. in L.A. but its right up there with them.
I just wish we had more time to rest before tomorrowís game but that is just the way the schedule falls, so Iíll take my victory and run with it.
Letís do grades for tonightís Odd Thoughtís.
Paul George: A+++ You wanted it, you got it. This was a breakout game no matter how you look at it. What I like the most about it though? Itís just one game of the previous three that Paul has been aggressive from the opening tip. What I like even more about his game? He is a two way player. For all of the great offense he gave you, and he was pretty much a one man zone buster out there, his defense was just as good. Special kudos to him for blocking that ball and keeping it in play and blocking it away from the basket so another Maverick could not just come along pick it up and score. I know everybody has already talked about his game so anything I have to say is going to be redundant. All I can tell you is that as I sat there watching him hit three after three after three all I could say to myself by the 4th one was damn.
Iím going to break tradition here and just go ahead and break out the dancing fruit & cheering characters now. This type of game deserves it.
David West: A I can not tell you how important he was to the team tonight and this game. In the first half he went toe to toe with Dirk and only scored 6 fewer points than he did. David was aggressive and just kept taking it to him over and over and over. He certainly didnít stop Dirk but Dirk didnít stop him either. Also and I canít emphasize this enough. The defense he played on Dirk was outstanding for the most part. He was just out of his mind hitting shots all night. I mean for Godís sake one time I swear he was horizontal falling away from the basket and hit nothing but net. His experience playing often against the Mavericks paid off big tonight.
Danny Granger: B + Not his best shooting night but there were a couple of big things he did do that may go unnoticed. This may be as much credit to Frank as it was to him but both need to be recognized. In the 4th quarter they moved Danny over to guard Vince Carter quit a bit and he shut him down cold. I am fairly certain Vince didnít score again. Second he kept working the offensive glass all night, of course some of them were from his own misses so there is that. Also he contributed 5 assists for the game. You could look at him though and see he looked pretty tired most of the game.
Roy Hibbert: B + Like Danny he did not have a good shooting night but once again big Roy came through on the glass. 14 rebounds to go along with 2 blocked shots is still a good night even if you shoot 3-13 from the floor. He was rushing his shots tonight and a lot of that had to do with the defensive trapping that Carlisle had the Mavericks playing. Also while Roy will only be credited with blocking two shots anybody who watched that game knows he caused 2 other misses due to what we will now refer to as FOR Syndrome (Fear Of Roy). This is now something we are starting to see more often from teams as he has now legitimately become a shot blocking and defensive force in the NBA.
Darren Collison: A - Not a spectacular game but he was steady, controlled and did not make many errors all night. His shot was dropping and contrary to what Quinn said on the broadcast that three he missed was IMO a perfectly acceptable shot. He was wide open, it was off of a pass so itís not like he came down and pulled up for a shot and at the end of the day he has become a pretty good three point shooter. So I just think Quinn was wrong there. He also played solid defense all night long.
So in other words our starters as a starting unit played one heck of a game.
Dahntay Jones: B Again this guy has become our most consistent bench player much to the chagrin of many of you. His defense is always good if not spectacular and he no longer comes in and forces up bad shots. Tonight he got physical and I am certain that Kevin Love was on the phone complaining to the league office just as soon as he got to his locker room after his game. I love how he did not back down from Haywood.
On that note was I the only person who was sweating it when Danny came running up the floor? Danny God love him should have played in the 80ís & 90ís because he thrives off of a physical game and like Dahntay backs down from nobody. Also notice Frank sprinting out there to drag Danny away? Probably not the most mature thing to do on Dannyís part but I love his fighting spirit.
Lance Stephenson: C+ I am not sure why he didnít play more to be honest with you. I donít think he played bad at all but I understand that Frank may not have the comfort level with him at point guard. Since Dahntay played a lot at the 2 tonight this cut into Lanceís time. He had a great pass but he was so quick with it and put to much zip into it so the ball went through (I think it was Dannyís hands) out of bounds.
Ok here is where it is going to start getting harsh. The starters won this game with some help from Dahntay Jones but other than that the bench pretty much stunk.
Tyler Hansbrough: F I know that might be harsh but this funk has gone on for to long now. He is hesitant on offense, getís lost on defense and generally is about useless on the floor. One point and two rebounds in almost 20 min. on the floor? I honestly thought Lamar Odom was going to have a breakout game himself tonight but thank God he stunk as well because at first I thought he was just going to torch Tyler. Look I have no idea what is going on here. I mean this is a guy who the first two weeks of the season was as important to our club as any player on the roster but for the better part of three weeks now he has been beyond useless with a good moment or two sprinkled in here or there. If he canít get this turned around soon the team may seriously have to look at another option, it is that bad.
A.J. Price: D We saw the return of Bush league Price tonight. At least he didnít turn the ball over and that is about the only thing saving him from an F. Look A.J. Jim is gone, you are no longer required to be a shooting guard. Yes he got 4 assists but Iím telling you guys right now that the one assist he got by passing it to George in the corner for a three from that blocked shot was a last second bail out by A.J. He was going up for a shot but at the last second decided he was not able to take the 1 on 3 shot he wanted and got the ball to Paul. What bothers me the most is when he doesnít even look to run any form of offense other than trying to get up the first shot he can. Again I understand it is only his second game so again Iíll give him a break. But right now he is not making any real argument for him to retain any playing time once Hill returns.
Lou Amundson: C I really canít give him any higher or any lower as he only played slightly more than 2 min. Again this was Vogel looking at his lineups and deciding that he needed the offense on the floor and Tyler wasnít going to give it to him so he went mostly with West and Roy. On the other hand I honestly think Frank would have been just as well playing Lou and benching Tyler but that is just me.
Ok, there is no way I am going to end this post on such a downward note.
I want to ask everybody a question instead.
Where does the current starting five of the Pacers rank in terms of starting fives for the Pacers in the NBA?
The Pacers train keeps on rolling and the Mavericks were tonightís victim standing on the tracks. Here is to hoping we can help expedite Dwightís exit from Orlando with a butt stomping on NBA TV.