Off the Court: Chris Denari

By Chris Denari

November 14, 2010

For the Indiana Pacers, playing on back-to-back nights a year ago didn�t register a very good winning percentage. This year, the Pacers have won three of their first four back-to-back games and have a 4-4 record through the first two and half weeks of the season.

That�s a good start because the Pacers will play 21 back-to-backs this year. That�s 42 games, more than half of the 82-game schedule in 2010-11.

The Pacers gave a game away on a second consecutive Friday night when Houston rallied late for a 102-99 win. But Saturday night�s win at Cleveland was impressive as the Pacers played plenty of good �D� in beating the Cavs 99-85.

After our telecast, I commented to analyst Clark Kellogg that it was a shame that the Pacers didn�t sweep the weekend. But Clark noted, and was absolutely right, that the Pacers showed something in coming back on the road and grabbing a win. Sometimes you need a negative to trigger a positive and in the long run that should help this team during the year.

Now back to the back-to-backs. Last year, Indiana was 9-13 on the first night and 6-16 on the second night of 22 back-to-backs. That�s a 15-29 record. Already, the Pacers have three back-to-back wins and two on the second night.

But last year, Indiana was 5-5 through 10 back-to-backs before losing 10 straight and 13 of 14. So we�ll have to wait and see how this year�s team responds over the next month.

Now some thoughts about the weekend. Friday night was disappointing because the Pacers allowed Houston to shoot 50%. And the Rockets� 58% second half performance was just too much for the Pacers to overcome.

Winning at Cleveland was a different story. The Pacers used a strong offensive start to open the third quarter and the Cavaliers shot only 28% in the second half. And remember Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy during the 2007-08 season. They were a solid one-two punch that nearly got the Pacers to the playoffs.

Saturday night, they mirrored that with Granger scoring a season-high 34 and Dunleavy adding 20. They combined to hit 19-35 field goals, including 9-17 from three-point range. They carried the Pacers in the fourth quarter with 10 points each and 20 of the Pacers� 26 points. When one of the teams needed to seize control, it was Indiana�s defense and the Granger/Dunleavy duo that notched Indiana�s second road win of the season.