Recap: Pacers 117, Cavs 112 (Or, so close, too bad.)

February 3rd, 2011 by John Krolik

Overview: The Pacers pulled out a 117-112 win against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Darren Collison made the game-winning 3 with 1:07 to play. Ramon Sessions recorded a game-high 25 points and 9 assists for the Cavs.

Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades, and for teams that are not historically terrible bullets:

- This team’s moments of competence have been few and far between this season. Those moments, when they have come, have generally featured Ramon Sessions attacking weak defenses and playing like a true point guard. Against most teams, Ramon’s attack-attack-attack style doesn’t work: against the Pacers, he looked like Tony Parker. He was able to get into the paint, found the cutter or open shooter when the defense collapsed on him, and lived on the free-throw line against the Pacers, who were completely incapable of defending the rim without fouling. Ramon has his flaws, and they are serious flaws, but the only time the Cavs look like a real team is when Ramon is on his game. I don’t really know what to do with that information. In related news, this team has not won a game since a week before Christmas.

- This was a crazy game. The Cavs faced an early deficit, but got back in the game by pushing the break and drawing fouls by being aggressive. Ultimately, the team lost because they didn’t run their offense on crucial possessions and couldn’t stop the Pacers from getting whatever shot they wanted whenever they wanted it. The Pacers rushed at times, but they got a wide open lane to the basket or jumper every time they didn’t do something comically stupid. For the millionth time, this team is not going to have consistent success if it keeps trying to outscore teams. The only time they can play actual offense is in transition, and they don’t care enough about defense to consistently get stops. That’s a bad combination.

- Manny Harris looks like a legit NBA player. I admit I was skeptical, but he’s dangerous in transition, can make threes if the defense sags, and can slash effectively. If he was playing alongside LeBron, he’d look like a starting-quality NBA swingman. That comment cuts both ways.

- Parker was on his game tonight. Every now and then, he’ll pull out a performance that reminds you how good he was with Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Wednesday night was one of those games. He drained tough jumpers, made smart passes and cuts, and even had some nice finishes inside.

- Eyenga settled for rushed shots late, but so did Harris, Jamison, and Hickson. It’s becoming apparent that the players on this team don’t believe the Cavs will win unless they make hero plays late, and no player on this team is really capable of making hero plays. Again, that’s a bad combination.

That’s all I really have for tonight. This was the Cavs’ best chance to avoid the futility record, and they blew it with horrible defense and forced shots late. The team does not trust the offensive system, and there is no defensive system. They lost because they do not know how to win. “They don’t know how to win” is usually a cliche; however, when a team hasn’t won a game in a month and a half, the cliche becomes the truth. Until next time.

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