When I first saw that the L.A. Lakers were playing the Indiana Pacers Tuesday the first thing that came to my mind was the Boston Celtics.
If you can recall, it was the Pacers who pulled off the first upset of the NBA season when they took down the Celtics 95-79 on Nov. 1. And it is easy to say after a win, but I really thought the Pacers were going to beat the Lakers when I saw that matchup. Not because the Pacers are a better team, but they just seem to be the giant slayers.
My mind quickly changed after I saw the score at the end of the third quarter. The Pacers were getting destroyed 101-86. It takes a whole new kind of terrible to surrender 101 points in three quarters, but the Pacers did. But then the Pacers had a fourth quarter that would have made Coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman in Hoosiers) proud.
The game came down to the final seconds as Troy Murphy did his best Matt Melvin impression and sank a dramatic buzzer beater to sink the seemingly unbeatable Lakers. Yes, the game was played in true Indiana Hoosier fashion.
It was like Hickory High School going against South Bend Central all over again playing for the Indiana state championship. But instead of Matt Melvin's heroics, it was Troy Murphy and instead of the under appreciated Drew Igel, the Pacers had No. 33.
Danny Granger once again proved why he is the most — not one of the most, but the most — underrated player in the game. Granger not only dropped 32 points, but his leadership and poised showed even in the highlights as he did his best to keep his teammates involved on the offensive end of the floor and always hustling.
The only thing missing was someone to take the role of Shooter Flatch, the drunk guy turned basketball coach. I would have loved to see one of Jim O' Brien's assistants show up to the game loaded.
Now the Pacers have to face the Celtics for a second time, but unfortunately, I don't think the champs are going to be as easy to defeat as they were on Nov. 1. It only gets rougher from there as they play the Cleveland Cavaliers after Boston and then right back to their third game against the Celtics.
If there was ever time to channel their inner Hoosiers, this is it. Call up coach Nolan, Ingel, Melvin and Jimmy Chitwood and put together a miracle December. And if they can't win an NBA Championship, then maybe they could capture an Oscar.