Pacers 95; Celtics 79
The new Pacers gave fans on Saturday everything they could hope for, from a decisive win over the NBA champions Boston Celtics, to a Pacer performance filled with hustle, teamwork and promise. One particular moment of hustle lost Danny Granger his two front teeth, and if that’s the sort of play we’re to expect from this year’s team, the Pacers better have a cadre of doctors, dentists and chiropractors at the ready.
Granger left momentarily, then returned; his 20 points led all scorers.
The Pacers first unit — Granger, T.J. Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, Marquis Daniels and Troy Murphy — established hegemony early and the squad never lost that control — even with the Celtics pulling close toward the end of the first half. Despite star forward/guard Mike Dunleavy still out nursing his knee, the Pacers seem replete with talented players.
Daniels, starting for Dunleavy, was explosive, with numerous blocked shots and steals to go with his ten rebounds and 13 points. He hounded Ray Allen, the Celtics silky-smooth shooter, who scored but ten points.
Overall, the Celtics play was lackluster, just shy of moribund, as they allowed the scrappy Pacers to coast to victory. Consummate complainer Paul Pierce shot just 20 percent – 3 for 15 – and was even deplorable from the free throw line: 7 for 12.
So many new players… it’s a rush just to see the line up appear before gametime on the big center court screen. Only center Jeff Foster might give a Pacers fan that certain sense of déjà vu. With this level of hustle, balanced scoring and team-oriented play, by Christmas we could have a Pacers present we might not otherwise have anticipated — especially given the coal we might end up with in the Colts’ stockings.
Now if Santa would only bring Danny Granger two new front teeth.
This Wednesday night the Pacers battle the Phoenix Suns. Go to http://www.nba.com/pacers/