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Friday, July 19, 2024

Pacers Finally Claim First Victory

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It seemed perfect on paper.

Mired in an early season slump that saw them give away a game in Atlanta and then get spanked at home against Miami and Denver, the Pacers would face the worst team in the Eastern Conference in front of the few people in New York City who were not watching the Yankees clinch the World Series. Easy win, right? Not exactly.

After being beaten repeatedly on pick and roll plays in the first half, Indiana adjusted and rode an impressive team effort in the second half to capture their first victory of the season at Madison Square Garden by a score of 101-89 over the hapless New York Knicks.

The Knicks led by the trio of David Lee, Chris Duhon, and former Pacer Al Harrington, made things difficult for the Blue and Gold in the first half and took a six point lead in to the locker room at halftime. Indiana would buckle down defensively in the third and outscore New York to trail by just one at the end of the third quarter. The final stanza was all Pacers as they controlled the tempo and won the rebounding war in route to outscoring the Knicks 28-15 and sealing the victory, to provide some much needed enthusiasm for what no doubt had to be a joyous air trek home to Indianapolis.

Despite playing with just an eight man rotation due to injuries, the Pacers enjoyed excellent balance with five players in double figures led by Danny Granger who had 21 points. The team captain was joined in the double figure parade by Dahntay Jones who added 19, and T.J. Ford who chipped in with 16 points and played like a man possessed offensively down the stretch in the fourth quarter for Indiana. Roy Hibbert added 15 and a team high 14 rebounds, and Brandon Rush enjoyed his best game of the season with 12 points including his first three point baskets of the season.

The struggling Knicks were led by Al Harrington’s 22, and the ever dependable David Lee, who dropped in 20 to go along with a game high 19 rebounds.

Notes: Dahntay Jones and Brandon Rush also reached double figures in rebounds on the night when the Pacers would out rebound New York by a 52 to 47 margin.

Jones, who brought a reputation as a defensive stalwart when signed in the off season, continues to shine on the offensive end as well. After hitting Denver with 20, and the Knicks for 19, he is now averaging 15.5 and gives the Pacers an offensive weapon they probably were not counting on. He drove the lane at will against New York and twice finished with thunderous dunks.

Troy Murphy missed the game with a sore lower back which was the result of a nasty fall to the floor in the Denver game.

Jeff Foster and Tyler Hansbrough also remained out with injuries.

The Pacers seemed much more fluid on offense against the Knicks as they demonstrated good ball movement and constant motion off the ball as well. While this team never had any trouble scoring points last year, the last two games were painful to watch in terms of players standing around on offense and settling for ill advised shots deep in to the shot clock.

Hopefully we have seen the last of that type of lethargic play.

The NBA needs to stop playing games with attendance figures.

There were tons of empty seats at Madison Square Garden last night and the announced attendance was still 19,273.

It is high time they start releasing actual attendance figures, and not the number of seats sold. Do they think we can’t count?

Former Pacer Haywoode Workman was part of the officiating crew for the game. Workman was a popular member of the Pacers during his tenure and was active in the community as well. Workman looked fit and trim and displayed that infectious smile he was famous for while here in Indy.

The highly popular Masquerade Blue and Gold Ball will take place Saturday Nov. 7 at Conseco Fieldhouse.

The event hosted by the both the Pacers Foundation and the Simon Youth Foundation, benefits at risk youth and has raised over 5.3 million dollars in the past eight years for this great cause. Kudos to Deborah Simon and Cindy Simon-Skjodt.

The next Pacer game is Friday Nov. 6 against Gilbert Arenas and the Washington Wizards at Conseco Fieldhouse.

The tipoff is 7 p.m. and there are still tickets available at the Fieldhouse Box Office, which can be reached at (317) 917-2727 or at Ticketmaster.com.

Danny Bridges, who thinks the Pacers are a legit playoff contender this year, can be reached at (317) 578-1780 or at Bridgeshd@aol.com.

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