Saturday, November 16, 2013

Dream start ends with resounding thud

The Pacers dream start to the season ended with a resounding thud in Chicago Saturday night in what turned out to be a 110-94 loss.

The Big Picture
If former Pacers coach Dick Versace could have had his way with the NBA rules committee, coach Frank Vogel could have called a timeout late in the third quarter, rolled out a gong to center court, and banged it, therefore declaring the game over. There are usually about three or four of these a year, one way or the other, where there's not much point to keep on playing. But the rules say otherwise. The good news is if someone would have asked anyone involved with the Pacers if a 9-1 start to the season was acceptable, well, the answer would have been yes. So, it's just one game. There are still 72 more left. It's not time to panic over one loss on the road to a good Chicago team that has yet to lose at home this season.
1) There were not many on this night, but the only way the Pacers kept it somewhat close in the first quarter and through some of the second quarter was with the play of Roy Hibbert and David West. Hibbert had 14 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks and West had 13 points and seven rebound. As was the case a few times in blowout losses last year, Hibbert brings it every night.
2) We haven't seen Chris Copeland much this year, and for good reason. When you're not losing there's no reason to change anything. but with the game out of hand, Vogel saw a chance to use Copeland with the starters for a while. And he responded by hitting three 3-pointers. It was a good time to get some minutes for Copeland in case they have use him in a key spot later in the season. No, it wasn't about changing the game or anything, but it was about seeing how Copeland can fit in with the rest of the starters.
3) I'm not sure if this belongs in this category necessarily, but if there was any question about whether Derrick Rose is fully back. If he's hitting 6 of 11 3-pointers, there's not much you can do to stop him.
Luol Deng and the rest of the Bulls pretty much gave
the Pacers fits in Chicago Saturday night.
1) There's plenty to go around here, but the biggest disappointment was the lack of the smashmouth type of game that Vogel has preached about since he took the head coaching reigns. Sure, if Rose gets loose on occasion and gets down the lane, that's understandable. But when Kirk Heinrich and Jimmy Butler are getting free passes through the defense, that's certainly not what Vogel wants to see. The fact that this was not a competitive game was maybe the biggest surprise.
2) It's understood that basketball is a lot of reaction, but there's no law against using your brain on occasion. The Pacers seemed to forget about running some kind of offense and they also did a poor job of finding mismatches against the Bulls defense. And often, the bad offense put the defense in a bad position. And just like the late Michael Jackson said, it was all "bad" for the Pacers.
3) We've sung the praises of Paul George this season he's certainly deserved it. But on this night, he along with Lance Stephenson just didn't have it. They combined to shoot 8 for 28, including 0 for 7 from the 3-point land. Everyone has bad nights on occasion, but the one disturbing part of it was that is was apparent early on that they were playing a little tight. But no big worries here, there are other games. Lots of them.
The Pacers world did not end with this loss. They are still legitimate contenders to win the Eastern Conference and to win the NBA title. This game was just a reminder that it won't be easy. The Bulls are good, the Nets will get better and of course, you've got that team down in Miami that's still plenty capable, too. Sure, it would have been nice to see this game be more of battle, but losing one battle does not mean the war is lost. Remember, just the Pacers and Spurs are the only one-loss teams in the league.
Next Up
The Pacers have a few days off until they travel to New York to play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. The Knicks have struggled to start the season and were 3-6 after losing by 20 at home to Atlanta Saturday night. The Knicks seem a bit of a mess these days, but with Carmelo Anthony, they are capable of playing a good game at any time, especially when they are at home. The Knicks also play at Detroit on Tuesday, so they will be on the second night of  a back-to-back, while the Pacers will be a bit rested and surely ready to rebound from their own embarrassing loss on Saturday.

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