There was a common theme to the basketball games I cared about over the weekend. Friday the team I covered won their game by 35 points. In an amazing comeback over the past three weeks, my teams are now up to a +7 TMF. I get to cover the #2 team in class 2A this week, so hopefully that improves some more.
Saturday KU won by 33.
And Sunday, in the first NBA game I’ve attended since 2003 (I think), the Pacers waxed Charlotte by 35.
I sense a common thread.
The Pacers game was fun. They kicked it off with a 21-2 spurt. Charlotte scored 10-straight points but after that, it was over. Charlotte is not a good team, but they really seemed to quit at a couple points in the game. The old man in me wants to say, “Play for pride. You’re making too much money to mail it in like this.” The realist in me sees a team that sucks playing a Sunday night road game and has some understanding for why they were just trying to get off the court as quickly as possible.
I’ve been watching at least parts of Pacers games this year. They’re pretty young, full of (seemingly) good guys, and tend to play hard every night. Danny Granger is a third-tier NBA star. Paul George is a budding star who can be brilliant at times. Roy Hibbert is awkward and limited and likable.
But I most enjoy watching 12-year veteran David West. He still has some game, but relies mostly on old-man moves these days. He’s the perfect crafty veteran to lead this team of youngsters. In 22 minutes Sunday, he went for 14 points on 7-10 shooting, eight boards, three assists, three blocks. It’s fun to spend a few minutes just watching him. Focus on him working away from the ball, getting into the perfect help-defense positions, sneaking in for rebounds from the weak side. He’s a craftsman.
No real fun stories from the game. We were sitting in the upper deck, which felt a long way away after sitting in high school gyms most of the time. But it was still a good view. Banker’s Life Fieldhouse is a fine place to watch a game. We did see some scalpers screaming at each other before the game. One threatened to shoot the other, but pointed out that he wasn’t worth the bullet. That’s a fun conversation to walk through, believe me.
Official attendance was 11,600. I’m not sure it was quite that high. With the remake of the roster and them playing more competitive ball, the city is slowly re-embracing the franchise. But a Sunday night game against a bad opponent doesn’t fill the seats. While not in as bad of shape as New Orleans, this is still not a healthy franchise. It would be great if George, or some future draft pick, turned into a franchise cornerstone along the lines of Reggie Miller and the team could again be beloved and safe in Indy, rather than a prime prospect to end up in Seattle or Kansas City.