Dirk Nowitzki and Caron Butler were not in uniform for the Dallas Mavericks tonight, but all the Pacers care about is their second win in a row. They got that win tonight in front of the fans at Conseco Fieldhouse, 102-89.
Four players scored at least 16 points for Indiana, which appears to be getting its offense kick-started. The Pacers had the 27th best offense in the entire league up until this week.
They are now 11-2 when scoring at least 100 points. They have the third-best defense according to opponents shooting percentage in the league, and they were able to hold the Mavericks to 41 percent from the floor.
Brandon Rush led the way for the Pacers with 20 points and no turnovers. Danny Granger and Darren Collison both had 17 points, while rookie Paul George continued to impress as he chipped in 16 points off the bench in just 18 minutes of play.
He had four 3-pointers for Indiana, two big ones in the fourth quarter. Granger also had six assists, and Collison had five rebounds and four assists.
The Pacers had a season-low seven turnovers for the entire game.
Indiana was also able to cash in once again at the free throw line, going 20-of-22 for the game. It was perfect at the line last night in Philadelphia, as it again scored over 100 points in route to a victory. The Pacers have spent a significant amount of time working on their offense this week, and it appears to have worked for them.
The Mavericks entered the night with the second-best record in the Western Conference, but dropped to 2-6 without Nowitzki. Tonight was just their third road loss on the season.
In his last five games, Darren Collison is averaging 16 points and 7 assists per game. They are trying to get him in more pick-and-roll situations with Hansbrough, which is paying off. He did this all season last year with the Hornets with David West.
It looks like he is getting comfortable at the PG position for this team, and the Pacers are looking to improve on their current place in the standings in the East. Right now, they have seventh place on lock, but moving up another spot isn't really too much to ask for this team.
Collison's numbers over the last five games are impressive, and even more so when you consider the fact that he has been going up against very good competition. Those games featured the Knicks, Spurs, Hawks, Sixers and Mavericks. Up next, he has a date at home with one of the best players in the league, Derrick Rose.
Rose and the Chicago Bulls will make the short trip to Indianapolis on Friday night, where the Pacers will look to make it three in a row. If they are able to pull that one out, it will give them some much needed confidence as they head out on a four-game trip out West.
The Pacers are trying to buck the trend that has haunted this team for the past three or four years: the drop-off that they appear to have in the fourth quarter, late in games.
Last night they almost handed one away to the Sixers, but they responded and finished the game strong. Tonight, they played very consistent throughout the game. They scored 25 points in every quarter but the second, which they scored 27.
The Pacers hadn't won consecutive games since Nov. 28 against the Lakers, and Nov. 30 against the Kings.
If they can keep this offense above water, and keep playing the great defense they have been playing all season, there is no reason why this team will not make the playoffs in the East.
The top four or five teams in the East may be some of the best in the league, but there is a significant drop off after that, and they Pacers will have no excuses if they fail to land a spot this year.