Western Conference Woes: Pacers Keep It Close, Fall to Mavericks

No NameAnalyst IMarch 5, 2011

After their embarrassing performance in Oklahoma City a couple of days ago, the Pacers finally decided to fight back. Darren Collison hit a 3-pointer with just 3:24 left in the fourth quarter which cut the lead to just three, but Dallas put it in high gear for the final three minutes. Dallas wins, 116 - 108.

Danny Granger led the way for Indiana with 22 points, while Collison added 17 points and six assists for the Pacers who are now 27 - 34 on the year. This was the second of three games out west, as they will play in Houston tomorrow night against the Rockets before returning home for one game.

All five starters scored in double figures for the Pacers, and Tyler Hansbrough and Paul George combined for 21 points off the bench. Jason Terry had 21 points off the bench by himself, and Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points to lead all scorers.

Collison and rookie Lance Stephenson each recorded six assists, while the rest of the team managed a combined seven.

Stephenson has been getting more playing time the past few games, but I don't know if it is necessarily a good thing for this team. With the return of Brandon Rush to the starting lineup, it seems to have taken away opportunities for Paul George, and now with Price and Stephenson playing with Rush and Dahntay Jones, it seems like George is struggling to find his rhythm again.

George still got 22 minutes in this game, and finished with eight points, but that was pretty much it for him. As much as I appreciate the things that Jones, Price, and Rush have all given to this team, I think it's about time that coach Vogel makes George his sixth man; officially.

When looking at the future of this team, I honestly see Paul being the face of this franchise in two years. Whether that means Granger will still be here, or somewhere else, I think George has that much potential. Sure it is nice to see guys like Jones and McRoberts playing hard because they are going to be free agents at the end of the year, but we have to concentrate on this season. If we fumble away an opportunity to make the playoffs for the first time in five years (Charlotte is just begging us to take the 8th seed) this city is going to go nuts.

Luckily for Indiana, both Charlotte and Milwaukee are going to end up losing tonight, so they shouldn't lose any ground in the race for eighth in the East.

We are getting to the point in the season where every game is crucial when considering the playoff race. We aren't that far behind Philly for seventh, but there are a few teams that are nipping at our heels for that eight and final spot. We have to win the games we are supposed to win, and show up and surprise some people like we did earlier in the season.

All things considered, it was nice to see this team fight in the second half and really believe that they could come back on the road against one of the best teams in the league. Especially after what happened in Oklahoma City the other night. If they can bring the same intensity and passion tomorrow night, maybe they can end this short Western road trip on a high note.

Tip-off for tomorrow night's game in Houston is set for 8:30 p.m.