Granted, it’s a little early for the alarm to go off.
But when a game tips at 7:30 a.m. half a world away, you do what you have to do, which means knock the alarm on the floor, slam down a couple of cups of coffee, rub your eyes, clear your head and watch some ball.
It didn’t take much time, or a keen awareness of the nuances of the game, to figure out your morning was about to be wasted.
The Pacers fell into a 12-0 hole that grew to 23-8 and never recovered in falling 116-96 to the Rockets in the first NBA game ever played in the Philippines Thursday in Manila.
The offense continued to consist of one-pass possessions that led to isolations or one-on-one attempts. The defense didn’t make the trip.
The Pacers shot 39.5 percent, had more turnovers (19) than assists (16), were outrebounded 45-39, were outscored 62-42 in the paint and 26-13 in transition.
In other words, it was a pretty total loss.
It’s a little early for alarms to go off when it comes to team and individual performance, but suffice to say there are some early hot spots that bear monitoring.
The Pacers were dominant defensively in the paint, in transition and on the boards last season, leading the NBA in all three categories. In two preseason games, they’re minus-28 in the paint, minus-21 in transition and minus-34 on the boards.
Individually, no one looks sharp, particularly on offense. The ball and player movement that was the trademark of last season’s team has been almost totally missing. George Hill had five assists; the other four starters combined for one. Paul George has tried a lot of one-on-one moves and has seven turnovers for his trouble. Roy Hibbert is 6-for-21.
Instead of rising to the challenge of Danny Granger’s return, Lance Stephenson has disappeared entirely.
As you would expect, Granger has struggled with his shot (4-of-20 overall, 1-of-6 from the arc) and it’s obvious by his movement he has yet to regain full trust in his surgically repaired knee.The rebuilt bench looked better against the Rockets, particularly Luis Scola (10 points, six rebounds, two assists) but with Coach Frank Vogel opting to employ a small lineup with Scola and Chris Copeland up front, Houston took full advantage of the lack of rim protection to conduct a layup drill – hence the dominance in the paint without much in the way of low-post scoring.
Again, it’s early. But the Pacers took their first preseason game very seriously, playing regular rotations until the final minutes, and still lost to the shorthanded Bulls. The approach this time was more typical of an exhibition, with 12 guys playing double-figure minutes, and so the end result was less meaningful.
We don’t need to see the Pacers rise and shine just yet, but it would be nice for them to do something other than roll over.
COPELAND, HARRISON HELP COLORADO FLOOD VICTIMS
Former Colorado teammates Chris Copeland and David Harrison have joined forces again, this time to bring aid to victims of the flooding that ravaged the state last month.
Harrison launched the site coloradohopefund.org to encourage and accept donations. The massive flooding caused at least nine deaths, forced 11,000 people to be evacuated, and destroyed or damaged more than 20,000 homes.
Harrison, who’s playing professional in Taipei and will reunite with his former Pacers teammates this weekend, said the site has received more than $23,000 so far, including his personal contribution of $10,000 in cash and start-up costs.
In 2010, Harrison’s family home in Nashville was severely damaged by flooding. When insurance wouldn’t cover any of the loss and FEMA assistance was only a fraction of what was needed, Harrison dipped heavily into his personal savings to help repair the house.
“We put a lot of time, I have a lot of friends out there, it’s a home away from home for us so we definitely want to bring attention to the situation and try to get help out there as much as we can,” said Copeland. “I’ve had a lot of friends (affected), there’s water everywhere, a lot of damage done, and thank God I haven’t heard of any people that I’m very close with that are very injured or worse, but definitely some people I know have lost a lot of property, so it’s sad to see.
“Just bringing awareness to the situation is huge, for the donations and to help people to rebuild. It takes resources to get people back on their feet and I think that’s what Dave’s trying to accomplish and I’m all-in.”
>> With so many new faces on the roster, Vogel believes the chemistry-building opportunity during the eight-day Asia trip will offset the strain of thousands of miles of air travel. “This is a business where you’ve got to build friendships,” he said. “You have existing friendships on your team with returning teammates and you’ve got to build those and then with the new guys you’ve got to initiate friendships and start getting to know those guys because you’re going to go into battle with them.”
>> Manila may not seem like a natural hoops hotbed, but it is. The league’s official website gets more traffic from the Philippines than any other foreign country. Basketball is by far the country’s most popular sport. “It’s staggering. It’s humbling,” David West told NBA.com. “It gives these games that we’re going to be playing here a little bit more weight, even tough it’s preseason. These people have waited a long, long time to see something like this, to have us here. It’s important that we honor their commitment to us.”