Maybe it’s time to start paying attention to the Indiana Pacers. When team president Larry Bird promised fans this summer that things would get better if they’d just have a little more patience, it was easy to think he was just trying to save his job.
In the past week, though, Indiana has beaten Miami and the Lakers on the road, after winning 95-92 at the Staples Center on Sunday.
The Pacers are 8-7 on the year, which doesn’t put them on the fast track to the Finals. But they are an interesting team and have a visit to Chicago coming soon on Dec. 13.
Looking down the list of players in the box score, the Pacers won’t scare anybody. They’ve got Josh McRoberts starting at power forward, Kareem Rush at shooting guard.
But adding point guard Darren Collison from New Orleans this summer helped stabilize the offense, while center Roy Hibbert is a serious contender for the most improved award.
Hibbert is averaging 20.6 points and 9.4 rebounds, and delivered 24 points, 12 boards and 6 assists against the Lakers.
Kobe Bryant scored 41 points for the Lakers. The biggest difference between this game and the Lakers’ win over the Bulls earlier last week was Steve Blake, Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes hitting just 1 of 7 shots from 3-point range against Indiana. Those three went 9-for-17 from long range against the Bulls.
Maybe the Lakers had an off night, or maybe the Pacers’ defense locked them up.
The Bulls finished preseason by blowing out Indiana at the United Center, while Hibbert shot poorly against Omer Asik. But don’t write off the Pacers too soon.