Though they may not have a big signature win in their three-game winning streak, the Pacers are three for three under interim head coach Frank Vogel.
The Pacers defeated the Portland Trailblazers 100-87 Friday night at Conseco Fieldhouse behind Danny Granger's 25 points and nine rebounds. Roy Hibbert, Darren Collison and Tyler Hansbrough also scored in double figures for the Pacers.
Indiana led by as many as 20 points during the game, and never trailed by more than two. They made 11 more free throws than Portland attempted. In all, they went to the free-throw line 43 times. Indiana also outrebounded the Blazers by 19.
Since the Pacers fired Jim O'Brien, they are averaging 107 points on offense, snapped a six-game losing streak, snapped another road losing streak and are 3-0 overall.
Though they haven't played any good teams during Vogel's tenure as head coach, his playing style has looked much better compared to the way things were run under O'Brien. The point guards have more freedom, and the young guys like Hansbrough and Paul George are getting more minutes. Hansbrough finished with 13 points and eight rebounds, despite shooting just one for eight from the floor. He was 11-of-12 at the free throw line.
Since Vogel has taken over, Darren Collison's points, assists and even rebounds are up. The same can be said for Roy Hibbert, who was in one of the biggest slumps I have ever seen a player go through this season. Paul George has also emerged into a big-time player for this team. The play of AJ Price and even Dahntay Jones has also been a pleasant surprise the past week.
Before the game, Danny Granger was listed as questionable, as he was suffering from a sinus infection. Maybe that sinus infection cleared up during the game, because he shot 7-of-13 from the floor, made both of his three-pointers, went 9-of-10 from the free-throw line and managed to grab nine rebounds as well. His 25 points tonight were his highest scoring total since he scored 27 in a loss to the Magic on January 26.
The Pacers have seven more games before the All-Star break. If they can get a few more wins before then, it would be a very nice first 10 games for this team with Vogel leading the way. Five of those next seven are winnable games for this team. Those games will consist of the Nets, Bobcats, Timberwolves, Bucks and Pistons. The two games that aren't considered "winnable" are the two games against the Miami Heat.
Indiana will have tomorrow off as they head to New Jersey, for their game against the Nets. That game will start at noon, and they will need to bring their A game. It's hard to beat the same team twice in a short amount of time. They crushed New Jersey by 32 points last Friday at Conseco Fieldhouse.
While the first two games under Vogel were a little shaky, they were able to finish, and now have their first three-game winning streak of the season. That may not sound like anything to fans of teams such as Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, etc, but for this team, it is exactly what they need to build on for the future.
If this team can regain the confidence they had in the first month of the season, they should be able to get back into the playoffs.