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Indy Label

By 12.03.08
T.J. FordT.J. Ford, Dime #23

The Pacers are like the anti-Spurs. With Duncan and Co., there’s no point in watching the first half of their games, since they’ll inevitably rally in the second and make it close down the stretch. With Indiana, it’s become a given they’ll be in good shape at halftime; it’s the second half where they either pull one out in crunch time or painfully implode. Hosting the Lakers last night, Indy managed to do both. Danny Granger‘s squad hung around in the first half, and by the time they grabbed a lead late in the third quarter with Josh McRoberts and Roy Hibbert on the court, you started thinking maybe they could pull an upset … But that’s when L.A. went on a 17-0 run, seemingly ending the threat while the typical Pacers-falling-apart evidence mounted: turnovers, bad shot selection, missing good shots, etc. Trevor Ariza started it with a steal and breakaway, and because he landed hard on a Granger foul — you know in 2008 it’s an automatic flagrant if you hit the ground hard — the Lakers got free throws and the ball. Next thing you know, with Kobe playing spectator, it was Ariza, Odom, Bynum, Vujacic and Farmar looking like Showtime … T.J. Ford (21 pts, 8 asts, 3 stls) sparked a Pacers run to start the fourth, however, drawing Kobe (28 pts) off the bench. Down one with 13 seconds left after a Kobe kill shot, Indy’s last possession was a mess. With Ariza holding Granger (32 pts) hostage, a near-turnover turned into a forced Marquis Daniels wild shot, but Troy Murphy (16 pts, 17 rebs) was there for the tip, and the ball bounced on the rim about 80 times before dropping through at the buzzer to hand L.A. just their second loss … Once in the first half, Kobe was toying with Brandon Rush and got the rookie in the air, then tossed the ball off the glass to himself for a lay-in. Sick. NBA TV’s Chris Webber got on Kobe for not dunking it, which is funny coming from a guy who could barely touch rim in his last stint with the Pistons and Warriors … Kobe had another sick one when he crossed Rush going right, crossed Murphy going left, then hit right-hand finger roll while floating left, plus-one. It gave Gary Payton a minor stroke in the NBA TV studio … By the way, belated congratulations to Vujacic. He recently landed the role as the main villain in Bad Boys III, a straight-to-DVD release starring Shawn Wayans and Anthony Anderson … Granger is climbing the list of elite SF’s, but he’s got some big names in front of him. And after LeBron, it’s a battle for second place. Out of two top dogs, who’s better: Paul Pierce or Carmelo Anthony? We asked yesterday, here’s your chance to weigh in …

Brandon RoyBrandon Roy (photo. Aaron Hewitt)

Some of the Dime crew was at MSG for Knicks/Blazers. In the NY locker room beforehand we got a look at David Lee‘s iPod mix (“Hypnotize” by Biggie, “Live Your Life” by T.I., “My Drink and My 2-Step” by Cassidy); and Brandon Roy stopped by to check out an advance copy of Dime #46 (coming soon) with Nate Robinson, both guys arguing over who had the hottest Dime fashion spread … As for the game, the Blazers didn’t look good at first. Greg Oden bricked two dunks to set the tone for an off night (2 pts, 7 rebs), and Chris Duhon carved them up for 23 and 13. (The subplot to this Stephon Marbury soap opera that no one’s talking about is how good Duhon has been. Remember when we all doubted if he was even an NBA starter?) Portland got it together and pulled away in the fourth, getting 23 points from B-Roy and 18 from Rudy Fernandez, who had a person cheering section about 50 strong … E-mail from Christian inside the Portland locker room: “Batum eats EVERYTHING. His plate is fit for nine construction workers.” This was maybe 90 minutes before tip, and Batum was re-living Thanksgiving. Sounds like someone is under orders to gain weight … Kevin Martin was back for Kings/Jazz, and he had perfect timing. With John Salmons out, Sacto would’ve had ZERO offense. It was tight going into the final minute, when Deron Williams broke off Beno Udrih for the go-ahead layup, then stuck a pull-up J after Beno was swallowed whole in a Paul Millsap pick. Sacramento misses and Utah free throws ended it … Twice during crunch time, Quincy Douby had open looks at corner threes that would have been huge, and both times he missed. Badly. Including one air-ball. Both times, as Q was catching the rock the Kings’ play-by-play man yelled “DOUBY!” only to groan out loud a second later … When it comes to crunch-time play-calling, Mike Dunleavy Sr. makes Mike Brown look like Bob Knight. Down two in Dallas with six seconds left, here’s the “play” the Clippers ran: Inbounds to Baron, he backs down J.J. Barea 25 feet from the basket, then launches a step-back three that misses everything. We all know Baron can make things happen off the dribble and loves taking clutch shots, but come on. You’ve got Z-Bo, Thornton, Eric Gordon — you have options. Even if Baron’s going to shoot the big shot every time, at least do something creative once in a while … We’re starting a new feature on DimeMag.com called “Post Up,” where we let you, the readers, ask NBA players whatever is on your mind. First up: Kenyon Martin. Check it out and post your questions HERE … We’re out like eighty-one and one …


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