The Suns and Pacers are both hoping that addition by subtraction will equal success. The Suns solidified the strategic shift that began with the Matrix for Shaq by bringing in Terry Porter after Mike D’Antoni opted to coach one of the worst teams in the League for more money, and the Pacers finalized the great Brawl-era purge by shipping JO to Toronto (for TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and 17th pick Roy Hibbert) and telling their starting point guard of the past six years, Jamaal Tinsley, to stay home indefinitely.
So as two of the most-rebooted teams of the off-season butt heads in Indiana’s Conseco Fieldhouse, it seemed an apt time for the first game-blog of the season.
Let’s get after it.
11:45 – Diesel wins the tip and makes a sweet interior bounce pass to Amare for a dunk on the first play. Looks like he will be playing in back-to-backs after all. Terry Porter is a liar. Then again, I’m not sure if playing New Jersey actually counts as a game.
10:30 – Marquis Daniels hits a trey. Really?
10:04 – Shaq airballs a 7-foot jump hook. That was great. Maybe he should be sitting.
9:40 – After a Pacers miss, the Suns turn it over. That was their third of the evening. This, following up on the 24 TOs by Boston against Indy on Saturday, bodes well for coach Jim O’Brien’s directive to be active and get deflections.
9:25 – Shaq picks up his second foul. Looks like Terry’s plan of Shaq not playing will work out after all.
8:22 – After back-to-back threes by the oh-so-toothless Danny Granger and the oh-so-dopey Troy Murphy, Terry Porter has to call a time-out. That’s ten unanswered points for the Pacers.
8:10 – Amare gets to the line. He flips his protective Rec Specs up while shooting. Ya know, he really should just keep these even after his eye is fully healed. It’s worked for Rip with the mask, and they give him a nice throwback James Worthy dimension to his demeanor.
7:15 – Danny swats the living shit out of a Grant Hill layup into the backboard. Then Amare gets a block of his own on the next time down. Pacers vs. Suns: Feel the defensive intensity.
6:22 – Troy hits another straight-away three. In Hollinger’s player page for him I believe it said he lead the League in straight-away threes (those shot from the top of the key) last season by a rather large margin. Apparently, few players even take that many of them as that spot on the floor isn’t really a spot-up location in many offenses and Murphy hit like 120 or something. (I might be making up that number, but it was a lot more than anyone else.)
5:00 – After Murphy steals a nice post entry adroitly, TJ runs a one-man fast-break in transition and breaks some ankles in the paint before hitting a nice little pull-back 12-footer. Pacers up 21-10.
4:20 – Amare hits a nice J and now has 10 of the Suns 12 points.
3:47 – STAT makes his presence known again by slashing to the hole. Pacers foul him to avert the dunk, but he hits both throws. He’s up to 12 of Phoenix’s 14. It’s gotta be the goggles, money. It’s GOTTA be the goggles. (Either that or the embarrassingly porous interior defense of Indy.)
3:04 – Sweet pass from 7’2 rookie Dr. Roy Hibbert to a cutting TJ for a nice power lay-up.
2:33 – Other Pacers rookie Brandon Rush drives to the hoop for a nice little lay-in. These youngn’s look good. Pacers up 9.
2:12 – More Amare. He might score 50.
2:08 – FSN Indiana is running a gimick where you can text in to vote on which dunk by a Pacer rookie in the last game against Boston was better (Dr. Hibbert or Rush). And, shockingly to a Pacer fan, we have two rookies who can even dunk — let alone dunk well.
1:57 – STAT with two more. Plus a foul shot. That makes 17, I believe.
0:58 – Granger three followed by an Amare 18-footer. He has 19. Did I say 50? I meant 75. Granger follows it with another three. Pacers still up 9.
0:19 – Jesus. Amare with an easy-as-shit lay-up, plus he got fouled but they didn’t call it. He has 21 in the First Quarter.
0:05 – The prepubescent, 14-year-old ball-boy with a uniform, Travis Diener, is in the game for the first time this season…and he breaks someone off the dribble for a lay-in. Then back-up Pacer PG Jarrett Jack steals the inbounds pass and hits a 10-footer. Pacers end the quarter with 38 points and up by 11.
This guy is seriously 26-years-old.
2nd Quarter: Pacers 38 – Suns 27
10:05 – A bunch of boring play is high-lighted by a few boring jumpers. Yay.
9:34 – Granger misses a three. He was penetrating more than I had ever seen him do in the Pacers first two games against Boston and Detroit. Not tonight. If he can consistently attack the hoop — something he’s never done thus far in his career — he will make the leap to Caron Butler-level. Until then, he’s Rashard Lewis plus a little D.
9:05 – Brandon Rush hits a three. He’s looked impressively NBA-ready through three games. Pacers up 43-35.
8:40 – On the ensuing possession after some discoteque-frequenter named Dragic blows a lay-up after a great pass out of the post by Diesel, he picks up his third foul while trying to stop the always-lethal Jeff Foster.
8:09 – Amare picks up a charge in transition. That’s his 2nd…and the only way he will possibly be stopped tonight.
7:50 – TJ quicks his way through the lane and hits a slick reverse-layup plus the foul. Hoosiers are going to absolutely fall in love with this kid. Then on the next offensive trip he gets pushed while dribbling at half-court and sorta little-man-flails backwards. Yup, he’s adorable.
7:11 – TJ jumper. Pacers back up 48-37.
6:23 – After Raja Bell gets to the line following a dunk-attempt-foul by Granger after a steal, Nash checks back in after like eight minutes on the bench. Not sure why that is.
5:44 – Granger drills another triple. Being another Rashard has it’s upside for sure. Murphy hits another one on Indy’s next trip down. Indy up 54-43.
4:40 – Amare scores. He’s 9-9 from the field and 5-5 from the line. Nash, meanwhile, hasn’t scored. I don’t believe Diesel has either.
3:45 – TJ walks by Nash and makes a nice double clutch lay-in. Nash hits a three for Phoenix. Then Troy hits his 4th three — again from straight-away. Looks like someone is gonna lead the League in that category again.
3:45 – Stacy Paetz interviews Maceo Baston in some canned, pre-recorded and awkward segment. She might be the hottest NBA sideline reporter/hoops-chick.
2:45 – STAT dunks. Yawn. He has 25 and the Pacers lead has been cut to 59 – 53.
2:05 – Amare follows this up with a missed three that he had to pop as the shot-clock was running out, so he’s no longer perfect. Ha. He gets to the line and hits two more freebies on the next possession though. Boo.
1:14 – After the Suns cut it to 62-57, Murphy airballs a straight-away three. Nice one, League-leader.
0:28 – TJ drops a physics-defying, 18-feet-in-the-air tear-drop off the glass. What? Hard to believe that happened.
0:10 – After Indy gets a stop, TJ drills an uncontested pull-up from the free-throw line. He finishes the half with 18. The Pacers finish the half up 66-59. That’s easily the most points this team has scored in a half this season. They are gonna LOVE this kid in Indiana.
The specs give him his strength. He had 27 in the first half tonight. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Third Quarter: Pacers 66 – Suns 59
12:00 – So Amare has 27, TJ has 18, Danny has 15, Murphy has 12, Raja has 10, Nash has 3 and Diesel has a sweet little goose egg in six minutes. Why Nash isn’t carving up the Pacers, I have no idea. He’s obviously running the offense fine and certainly the main guy setting up Amare for dunks on his slashes, but he’s inexplicably only taken two shots. The worst part of the first half, however: No Robin Lopez sightings. Honestly, he was the whole reason I was doing this tonight. Get it together, Terry Porter.
11:20 – Jesus Christ. STAT just ripped the damn rim off out the glass on a dunk after driving from the top of the key by three Pacers for the first points of the half. Shaq gets his first points on a baseline post-move the next trip down.
10:01 – Amare his a 20-footer with the shot-clock expiring. Of course he does. Pacers up 68-65.
9:37 – Jeff Foster picks up his 4th foul guarding Shaq. Oh boy. He’s the only even semi-capable defender Indy has for Amare.
8:58 – In trying to keep up here, I’m not hearing much of the commentary really, but it’s worth mentioning that the Quinn Buckner is one of the best color commentators in the NBA. Plus, Indy’s play-by-play guy looks and sounds like Michael Scott from The Office. Between him and Troy’s uncanny resemblance to Jim Halpert, they must have had quite the Halloween party.
7:53 – With Indy now missing their jumpers instead of making everything and Shaq starting to impose his girth, this is more of a Suns-style half thus far. That fact, while accurate, is insanely depressing considering this is a franchise that had five 15+ ppg scorers on its roster just three short years ago and let Q Rich take literally 8 three pointers per game. [fist bumps my head in memorial.] Meanwhile, the Suns have cut the lead to 73-70 on after several nondescript plays.
7:11 – Much to everyone’s surprise, Amare blows by a white guy off the dribble and gets to the line. He makes em both. I don’t think he’s missed a FT tonight. It’s 75-71.
6:50 – Quis makes a sweet up and under lay-up. Am I really gonna hafta stop hating this guy? But it’s so much fun. Dr. Hibbert draws a charge on Barbosa next time down. That’s all well and good…but really? You’re 7’2″.
5:13 – Amare hits a foul-line jumper. He has 39. Pacers only up two. 78-76.
4:30 – The pussification of the NBA reaches new heights as Raja Bell gets a flagrant foul for hitting Jarrett Jack’s arm as he flies towards the hoop. Him falling awkwardly from 35 inches in the air means Bell did something untoward? Rich Mahorn is rolling in his grave.
2:57 – STAT dunks on two guys from behind the hoop — one of which was 7’2″. Wow. That’s what? 41? Blur hits a three next time down. Suns have cut it to 84-81.
2:14 – Amare leads the break with his dribble after a steal and dishes to known-surrender-aficionado Boris Diaw. He makes a lay-up plus the harm. If he hits the free-throw, we’ll have our first tie of the night. He misses. Pacers up one.
1:36 – Someone finally stops an Amare drive (Jeff Foster), but he catches rookie Brandon Rush in poor rotation and hits Barbosa in the corner for a wide-open three that he knocks down. Phoenix takes its first lead at 86-84.
1:17 – Amare somehow leads another fast break and makes a slick pass to Grant Hill for a lay-in. That’s three straight assists for the 6’11″ uber-stud.
0:00 – Ford airballs a buzzer-three to cap off a 14-0 Phoenix run. Phoenix is up six going into the fourth.
Dr. Hibbert has a surprise for you. He's not a complete stiff.
Fourth Quarter: Sun 90 – Pacers 84
9:49 – After mucho slop and boring action, Jeff Foster makes two from the line. Pacers cut the Suns lead to 92-88.
9:26 – An Amare lay-in gives him 43. He’s looking surlier on the defensive boards too as he grabs another after a Pacer miss on the next possession. STAT now has 8 boards, plus 6 assists to go along with his 43 points on 16/18 from the field and 11/11 from the line. Just incredible.
8:28 – Stacy Paetz continues to look good while sideline reporting. I have no idea what race she is. I think she’s Brazilian or Chinese or something weird.
7:48 – Granger abuses Grant Hill on a little dribble step-back pull-up. Welcome back to the game, broseph. I forgot you were even on the team. Suns up 98-90.
7:16 – Thunder Dan is an assistant coach for the Suns now. Good for him. I really liked him in the booth though, so sorta unfortunate for me. Last season, Granger’s offense really reminded me of Marjele’s game. He’s proving a more capable penetrator this year so far, however. Also, less “Thunderous” in his finishes.
5:55 – Speaking of…STAT just destroyed the rim again. Then, after he got bumped by the 87-pound Travis Diener and went cascading into the front row. Diener got a technical. Lovely.
5:33 – TJ Ford misses a jumper. Good to know he’s still in the building at least, I guess. Diaw shoots a fadeaway airball from the elbow on the ensuing play. That’s at least the third airball this game. So much for pre-season.
4:40 – Granger scores, cutting it to 101-95. Then he gets his transition lay-up swatted by Diaw the next trip down.
4:22 – A loose ball is scooped up by Nash, who lobs it to Diaw, who finishes it with an impressive reverse dunk. Wait…what? Really?
3:12 – After some frighteningly frantic Pacer offense pays no dividends, Granger blocks an awkward Amare lay-up attempt. Good to know he’s at least human. Danny follows that up with a step-back midrange jumper for his 23rd point. Just as quickly, Nash flies to the hoop and converts on one of his inimitable, patented right-handed scoop layups from the left side. Suns up 105-97.
2:25 – Marquis scores on a second chance opportunity plus the harm. He hits the free-throw to cut it to 105-100.
2:00 – Dubious foul call on what appeared to be a Barbosa self-trip/travel leads to a Suns bucket by guess who? Yeah, it was Amare. He has 45 and this isn’t looking good. 107-100.
1:30 – STAT gets to the line and makes both after TJ hits one of two from the line. He has 47.
1:08 – Amare back at the line. Of course makes both. That’s 49 points on a ridiculous 17/21 from the field and 15/15 from the line. Oh yeah, also 11 boards, 6 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks. Decent game, I’d say.
0:00 – Some other shit happens, the game ends. Amare takes off his jersey and tries to throw it to someone specific in the front row. Some douchebag intercepts. Phoenix wins 113-103. Boo.