Notebook: Memory From Brooklyn Hasn’t Faded
It’s not as if the Pacers need extra motivation heading into Monday’s game, when the Brooklyn Nets come to town. Careless mistakes cost them a win over the Toronto Raptors on Friday. The team wouldn’t divulge too much on the subject, but they were also frustrated with how their first meeting of the season against the Nets went down.
In that game, back on Jan. 13, the Pacers led by as many as 12 points midway through the third quarter. Then, everything shifted towards the Nets — the momentum, the calls, and eventually the lead.
Seven of the Nets’ final nine points in the third quarter came at the free throw line, cutting the Pacers’ lead to six as they entered the fourth. The Nets toed the foul line 21 times in the second half. Even though the Pacers buried all six of their tries, they were still outscored by 13 at the line.
George Hill and Frank Vogel each were given technical fouls in the final quarter. Frustration mounted and nothing seemed to go their way. To make matters worse, the Pacers missed 19-of-22 field goals in the fourth. A lot of that was due to how the game was called. Because they weren’t getting calls down low, they were settling for jumpers. 14 of their 22 attempts were from at least 13-feet out.
“I think when we get 12 free throws and they have around 31, it is hard to overcome,” Paul George said after the game, pointing out the obvious.
When asked to recall what happened on Sunday, it was clear that the game still didn’t sit well with David West. “It was just one of those games we felt like we should have won,” he said.
Then, he took a long pause, a veteran pause, as if to avoid saying something he might regret, he continued. “We made a lot of mistakes in that game so it wasn’t like we just gave it away. They earned it. We just have to finish possessions, rebound, and share the ball a little bit more. We just didn’t get to the free throw line.”
Vogel also took the high road and addressed their more immediate concern.
“The bigger picture for us is we felt like we let one slip away the other night (against Toronto). Every game matters, it doesn’t matter who our opponent is. Every game is huge right now. We’re a half-game ahead of Chicago right now in our division.”
The Pacers have had two days between games, whereas the Nets played Sunday night (at 8 PM) against one of the best teams in the league: San Antonio.
Keeping the Intensity High
After completing a grueling stretch—back-to-back-to-back games and four games in five nights—you would think the Pacers might tone back practice a bit to rest their bodies. However, that wasn’t the case.
“It wasn’t light,” Vogel stated. “It was more like let’s get them back running up and down, playing, feeling together and hopefully settle into more of a normal week this week.”
When asked whether the practice was light, West gave the short and honest truth: “No, we had a good practice.”
Without being prompted, Roy Hibbert gave his opinion on twitter: “Practice was hella tough today. We gonna get back on track.”
Wednesday is a “possibility” for Granger’s return
We still don’t have a definitive answer as to when Danny Granger, the Pacers’ top-scorer in each of the past five seasons, may make his season debut. The team projected his return to be around All-Star break, which looks to be about right. There’s a chance he plays on Wednesday before the team has about a week off.
“It’s still a possibility,” Vogel said. “I’d say it’s more than likely that he’ll play after the All-Star break. He had a good practice today, went full-court (for the first time) for quite a bit of the practice, and we’re going to have another practice on Tuesday and see where he’s at after that.
“I think it could be helpful to get his feet wet in some minutes on Wednesday but we need to make sure he feels good about it.”
Granger’s return will allow Paul George, who’s averaging almost 43 minutes per game over the last 11 games, to decrease his minutes and be more fresh on the court. He’ll also help spread the floor, which should open up more opportunities for Roy Hibbert in the post.
Stat that may only interest me: Danny Granger hasn’t talked with the media for 109 days … and counting.
Flu (Almost) Be Gone
Sam Young was not dressed, or even in the building for Friday’s game with Toronto. He already fought off strep throat earlier this year, but now he has the flu. Though not completely recovered, he practiced Sunday and is improving each day.