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Pacers fall to Spurs in opener but show promise

Let’s face it, it would have been nice to get the win but the loss was not completely unexpected.

In a brutal start to the 2010-2011 season, the Indiana Pacers stumbled to a 122-109 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.  The Pacers did well to come back from a double-digit margin late in the third quarter, but the Spurs’ experience allowed them to pull away in the fourth.

This was a game that showed plenty of promise, but also showed that there are plenty of areas the Pacers need to work on.

First, the positives.  It may not be Lebron, Wade and Bosh, but the Pacers now have their own version of the “Big Three” with Granger, Hibbert and Collison (Hah!).  Granger had 26 points and 4 boards, Hibbert had 28 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks, and Collison had 17 points and 7 assists.  All of them shot better than 50% from the field.  If this is the type of production we can expect from them every night, the Pacers will be in decent shape.

Brandon Rush was out with the suspension, so it was interesting to see the rotation coach Jim O’Brien played.  He ended up giving the minutes to TJ Ford, James Posey, Solomon Jones and rookie Paul George.  Hansbrough and Foster got DNPs.  AJ Price, Dahntay Jones and Lance Stephenson were on the inactive list to start the season, but nothing O’Brien does really surprises me anymore.

Now, the negatives.  The Pacers have not been a strong defensive team for a while, and despite all the crap we’ve been fed every year about them making defense a priority, tonight showed that the team still doesn’t get it.  When you give up 122 points to a team like the Spurs, you’re just not getting it done.

Then, there’s the turnovers.  The Pacers had 23 today, when O’Brien said he wants to cut it down to 14 per game.

The Pacers can only learn from this and keep improving.  Granger looks like he’s back.  Hibbert is looking like a beast and potential All-Star this season, provided the team can scrape together some wins.  Collison is still raw but looks like the real deal at PG.  If Rush returns as a rejuvenated player playing for his NBA life and Hansbrough recovers better than expected, then this team can definitely win a few games and challenge for the playoffs.