Pacers Post-Up: Beating the gift horses

By Conrad Brunner
November 15, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS � Odd as it may seem, the Pacers may have conquered something of a demon Saturday night.

Cleveland promises to be mediocre (at best) when fully healthy but was playing without key starters Mo Williams and Anderson Varejao. And the Cavs hadn’t won at home since surprising Boston on opening night.

In other words, they had the Pacers right where they wanted them.

You see, Indiana has a problem with gift horses. They not only look them in the mouth, they do complete nose-to-tail examinations and generally give them back. Such had been the case Friday night at home when Houston, with its 1-6 record and without Yao Ming and Aaron Brooks, knocked off the Pacers 102-99.

That was their third straight loss to a gift horse. Philadelphia was playing the second night of a back-to-back after a road overtime loss and routed the well-rested Pacers by 26 on Nov. 3. Milwaukee lost star center Andrew Bogut to a migraine headache an hour before tipoff but pulled out a 94-90 victory on Nov. 5.

“You go through 82 games and you’re going to have a lot of those,” said Dunleavy after the Houston loss. “We’ve had a couple already this season. It’s unfortunate and it eats at you but all you can do is look forward to the next night.”

While the performance was hardly picturesque in Cleveland, it was at least encouraging in its outcome. They defense held the Cavs to 31 points on 10-of-36 shooting (.278) in the second half. Danny Granger carried the offense with 34 points on 13-of-21 shooting.

It should be noted here that, since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Pacers are 13-6 when Granger scores at least 30 points and 23-48 otherwise. He scored 17 against Houston.

�We lose at home and win on a back-to-back on the road,” said Granger. ” � It was good to come back out, on the road, in front of a packed house and get a win.�

They are an unpredictable bunch, in part because of their youth, but they must find some stabilizing force if they are to make something of this season. With three home games this week (Atlanta Tuesday, the Clippers Thursday and Orlando Friday), they have more opportunities to climb above .500.

Here’s hoping all three opponents are as healthy as possible when they come to Conseco Fieldhouse.