Indiana can be a hard team to watch because as the most efficient defense in the NBA, it makes its opponents’ offense usually turn into a disjointed mess. Odd matchups lead to ugly shots. Then, when Indiana gets on offense, its third-worst offense can’t do much better. The first quarter of the season led to sporadic results, but the past 10 days have seen these Pacers possibly turn a corner with wins over Memphis, Miami and New York. Blossoming star Paul George was again valuable with his career-high six steals, 11 boards and 24 points, and Indiana’s D kept NY to a putrid 34 points at half. Down the stretch Ian Mahinmi (13 points on 6-of-7 shooting) took advantage of the soft belly of New York’s interior defense (missing Carmelo Anthony to a one-game suspension) with clutch buckets. Indiana won 81-76 in a grindfest. It wasn’t even the case that Indiana stole a win while NY missed its star, because Indiana wasn’t at full strength when Roy Hibbert had to ride a bike a couple times to get loose, including in the fourth quarter when Mahinmi more than made up for the max contract player’s absence. … It should be noted that the Pacers’ defense is good but it also helps when your opponent it shooting his way out of the game in the final quarter. J.R. Smith was the only Knicks player able to get his own shot and he played like he knew it, jacking 29 shots (making 10) en route to his 25 points off the bench. He missed his first six shots of the fourth quarter (most coming early in the shot clock), which gave Indiana more time to make a 13-0 run and come back from four points down entering the fourth. He did, however, pull off one of the sickest wrong-footed dunks we’ve ever seen. He split a George-Psycho T Hansbrough double at the wing with a minute left in the first quarter, took off on his right foot outside the key before splattering Mahinmi like a Tarantino movie. … The NBA might not be rid of the Maloofs quite yet. The Seattle Times reported even if the family sells to Seattle’s group of owners they would still hold a small stake — and they want a say in team operations because of it. The Maloofs have generally seemed aloof about how they’ve run this franchise ever since the team nosedived post-C-Webb. … We’re out like Boogie Cousins.
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