The NBA: Disrespecting Indiana

Danny Granger and the Pacers aren't getting any
R E S P E C T. But they don't really mind.
(image by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

*Unless otherwise specified, all images are from the Associated Press.

Who else is surprised that the Indiana Pacers have practically locked the 3rd seed in the East?

Who else is surprised that they are 3 games ahead of the Boston Celtics?

Who else is surprised that the Pacers currently have the same win total as the Lakers?

A lot of people, apparently, and many of those same people aren’t particularly convinced the Pacers are all that.

I guess such disrespect stems from the fact that Indiana shouldn’t be this good. On paper, at least.

But something is driving theses Pacers to what might just be a fairy tale season.

Still, the dissing exists. Read on:

This is a post from Glenn A. of

“They hate them. They hate everything about this small-market crew from Cornrows Central. They don't put them on the national networks; they don't put them high enough in the power rankings; they're even drawing up odds of which teams will be losing on purpose to get Indy in the playoffs? Don't believe me? Ask John Hollinger yourself:

John Hollinger of ESPN: Interesting playoff tanking situation emerging between Atlanta and Orlando--I imagine both greatly prefer facing Indy to facing Boston.

Everyone's disrespecting the Indiana Pacers. Closing in on 40 wins? Humbug. Wins against just about every top team in the league? Trivial. Playoff threat? Please, give me the vets; give me the superstars.

Pacer hate, Pacer disrespect, Pacer inconsequentialism (yep, made it up) is all the rage, and Pacer fans hate every bit of it, right? How How about disrespect breeds insatiable passion, the charming underdog story, the cliche but enormously popular "us against the world" war cry.

We pretend to hate the hate, but it's often what drives fandom, especially in small-markets. We need the disrespect, it feeds the frenzy. We want to complain because it makes the winning experience all the more gratifying.

This doesn't just apply to fans, either. Players/teams often play the disrespect card one day, then play the "we like to be under the radar" card the next. It's the best of both worlds, one gets all the built-in motivational tactics associated with being "neglected," then reigns supreme on his or her doubters when the neglected trumps its presumed superiors.

Keep that in mind, Pacer nation. The next time Indy doesn't fly as high in the power rankings as you'd like; the next time Golden St. or the Utah Jazz are on TNT, and the Pacers are barely scrounging up NBA TV games against rival Chicago; the next time media soothsayers omit Indy from their much balleyhooed projections, just remember it's all part of the plan. The same plan that's captivated the sporting landscape since its inception: Winning when you're expected to win reverberates with...well...with no one, cause the expectation was already established. Winning when you're supposed to be the chump reverberates with...well...everyone as all the doubters and uninformed prognosticators are forced to explain their blunders away.

Embrace the hate. Then embrace the inevitable Blue-and-Gold fire-breathing redemption that ensues.”

Maybe it’s a good thing that Indiana isn’t getting noticed. Maybe it’s okay that they’re flying under the radar.

Maybe that’s just the way they want it.

Because that’s how the underdogs like it. They strike when nobody’s looking. They strike when least expected. But they will strike.

And it will be memorable.

After the JUMP, April 15-16, 2012 stat-stuffers:

April 15, 2012 Game Recaps:
MIA over NYK, 93-85
LeBron James had 29 points and 10 rebounds, while Dwyane Wade added 28 points, nine rebounds and four assists as the Heat used an elongated run in the fourth quarter to snap the New York Knicks' nine-game home winning streak with a 93-85 victory on Sunday, clinching the Southeast Division title in the process. Chris Bosh scored 16 points and snatched 14 rebounds for Miami, which lost eight of its prior nine road games to teams with a winning mark coming in. The Heat outrebounded the Knicks 47-33 and swept the season series. Miami is 3 1/2 games behind Chicago for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Carmelo Anthony's 42 points weren't enough for New York, which had won four of its last five contests. J.R. Smith, who was the only other double-digit scorer for the Knicks, had 16. With the loss, New York moved a half-game behind idle Philadelphia for the East's No. 7 seed.

LAL pver DAL, 112-108 (OT)
Andrew Bynum had 23 points and 16 rebounds, while Ramon Sessions added 22 points and five assists as the Los Angeles Lakers won their fourth straight game without Kobe Bryant by downing the Dallas Mavericks, 112-108, in overtime on Sunday. Bryant has missed the last five games due to a left shin injury. Pau Gasol netted 20 points and pulled down 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who swept the season series against Dallas after falling in four games to the defending-champion Mavericks in last year's Western Conference semifinals. Dirk Nowitzki netted 24 points, but finished just 9-of-28 from the field for Dallas, which had its three-game winning streak snapped.

TOR over ATL, 102-86
DeMar DeRozan scored a team-high 23 points as six Raptors finished in double figures and Toronto defeated the Atlanta Hawks 102-86 at Philips Arena on Sunday. Alan Anderson chipped in 16 points, James Johnson added 15, and Ed Davis, Ben Uzoh and Justin Dentmon tallied 10 points apiece for the Raptors, who have won two straight since halting a four-game skid. Josh Smith led all scorers with 26 points and Ivan Johnson and Willie Green netted 14 points apiece as the Hawks fell for the second time in three games. Atlanta could have clinched a playoff spot with a victory but now must wait until Monday when these two teams meet again in Toronto for the second game of a home-and-home.

BOS over CHA, 94-82
Rajon Rondo had 20 points and 16 assists on Sunday and the Celtics defeated the Bobcats, 94-82. Boston, which clinched a playoff berth on Saturday, rested starters Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett in the third night of a back-to-back-to-back road stretch. Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley had 22 points apiece for the Celtics, who have won 11 of 14. They currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference -- 2 1/2 games behind Indiana -- and lead Philadelphia by four games in the Atlantic Division. Gerald Henderson had 22 points for the Bobcats, who tied a season-high with their 16th straight loss. They haven't won since March 17.

ORL over CLE, 100-84
Jameer Nelson led four teammates in double- figures with 21 points and nine assists as the Orlando Magic rolled to a 100-84 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and clinched a playoff spot on Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena. Jason Richardson was 4-of-7 from three-point range en route to 16 points, while J.J. Redick and Earl Clark added 13 points apiece for the Magic, who snapped a brief two-game skid and moved into a tie for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta, which lost to Toronto on Sunday. Daniel Orton added 11 points in the victory for Orlando. Antawn Jamison led the way for Cleveland with 21 points and Donald Sloan donated 15 points for the Cavs, who have dropped three of their last four games. Manny Harris and Alonzo Gee had 10 points each in defeat.

CHI over DET, 100-94 (OT)
Derrick Rose scored a team-high 24 points and handed out nine assists, and the Chicago Bulls used a dominant overtime period to down the Detroit Pistons, 100-94, on Sunday. Joakim Noah netted 20 points and grabbed 17 rebounds -- 13 on the offensive glass -- while Carlos Boozer had 15 and nine in the victory, the Bulls' third straight and 15th in a row over the Pistons. With the win, Chicago remained 3 1/2 games ahead of the Heat, who won Sunday afternoon, for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. Rodney Stuckey paced all scorers with 32 points for the Pistons. Charlie Villanueva had a season-high 13 before being ejected for a flagrant-2 foul on Rose late in the fourth quarter.

NOH over MEM, 88-75
Eric Gordon scored a team-high 18 points and Carl Landry added 16 points and 11 rebounds, as the Hornets took down the Grizzlies, 88-75 at New Orleans Arena. Jason Smith also posted a double- double with 14 points and 10 boards for New Orleans, which forced 21 turnovers in completing a successful 4-1 homestand. The Grizzlies, trying to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff race, shot just 36 percent from the floor and fell two games behind the fourth- seeded Clippers. Rudy Gay netted 24 points to lead the way.

DEN over HOU, 101-86
Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo each scored 20 points, as the Nuggets eased past the Rockets, 101-86 in a matchup between postseason contenders. Both teams came into the home-and-home series sporting identical 32-27 records, good for the last two spots in the Western Conference playoff race. Denver seized control of the seventh position with six games to play by shooting 49 percent and holding the Rockets to 32 percent shooting in a lopsided second half. Luis Scola and Chase Budinger netted 19 points apiece for Houston, which has dropped three straight and holds just a one-game lead over ninth-seeded Phoenix.

SAC over POR, 104-103
Marcus Thornton's jumper with 3.4 seconds left lifted the Sacramento Kings over the Portland Trail Blazers, 104-103, at Power Balance Pavilion. Thornton had 20 points, while Tyreke Evans also dropped in 20 and DeMarcus Cousins finished with 23 points and seven rebounds for the Kings, who snapped a seven-game slide. Wesley Matthews connected on eight three-pointers, including the go-ahead three before Thornton's game- winning shot, and scored 31 points to pace Portland, which lost for the fourth time in five tries.

April 16, 2012 Game Recaps:
ORL over PHI, 113-100
The Orlando Magic used six double-digit scorers in the absence of Dwight Howard and Glen Davis to down the Philadelphia 76ers, 113-100 at Amway Center. Despite the absence of their injured starting and backup centers, the Magic shot 53 percent against the league's best scoring defense and grabbed 16 more rebounds, with Ryan Anderson's 26 points and 16 boards leading the way. Jameer Nelson totaled 16 points and 13 assists, while Earl Clark, seeing more minutes in Orlando's depleted frontcourt, tied a career-high with 14 points and grabbed a personal-best 11 rebounds. Orlando clinched a postseason berth over the weekend, something the Sixers appeared to have locked up as recently as a month ago before their recent slide. Philadelphia, which has gone 2-6 in April, sits in a tie for seventh in the Eastern Conference playoff race with the Knicks -- two games up on the ninth- place Bucks with six to play. Jrue Holiday paced the Sixers with 18 points and eight assists, while Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young all netted 15 points in defeat.

IND over MIN, 111-88
All five starters finished in double figures, led by David West with 22 points, and the Indiana Pacers cruised to a 111-88 victory over Minnesota at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday. Danny Granger followed with 19 points, Paul George netted 18 and George Hill tallied 11. Roy Hibbert recorded a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds while West added 10 boards for the Pacers, who have won five straight and remain in line for home-court advantage in the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Indiana occupies the third spot in the East, three games in front of the Boston Celtics, Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks. J.J. Barea led Minnesota with 14 points and nine assists, while Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams poured in 13 points apiece as the Timberwolves continued to falter, dropping their 10th straight contest.

ATL over TOR, 109-87
Ivan Johnson scored a career-high 21 points as the Atlanta Hawks clinched a playoff berth with a 109-87 victory over the Toronto Raptors in the back end of a home-and-home set at Air Canada Centre. Jeff Teague added 19 points and 10 assists, while Joe Johnson netted 18 points for the Hawks, who finished up their road schedule with a 17-16 mark as their remaining five games will all be played at home. Atlanta kept pace with the Orlando Magic, who defeated the 76ers on Monday, and sits in a three-way tie with the Boston Celtics and Magic for the fourth spot in the East and home-court advantage in the first round. DeMar DeRozan scored 22 points, James Johnson contributed 18 and Alan Anderson finished with 12 for Toronto, which had its two-game win streak snapped.

NOH over CHA, 75-67
Greivis Vasquez poured in 20 points and dished out six assists as the New Orleans Hornets topped the Charlotte Bobcats, 75-67, at Time Warner Cable Arena on Monday. Carl Landry contributed 14 points to go with 12 rebounds, while Marco Belinelli added 13 points for the Hornets, who have won four straight and six of their last eight games. Gerald Henderson dropped in a game-high 27 points, Kemba Walker added 14 points and five rebounds, and Byron Mullens pulled down 10 rebounds to go with four points for the Bobcats, who lost for a franchise- record 17th straight time.

MIA over NJN, 101-98
LeBron James stepped up in the absence of Dwyane Wade, scoring the Heat's final 17 points en route to a game-high 37 as Miami came back to edge the New Jersey Nets, 101-98, on Monday. After trailing for the vast majority of the game, the Heat took their first lead at 97-96 with 51 seconds to play on the back of a personal 11-0 run by James, who finished with seven assists and six rebounds. Chris Bosh contributed 22 points and 15 rebounds in the victory, Miami's third straight. Kris Humphries led the Nets with 29 points and MarShon Brooks tied a career-high with 24 in New Jersey's second consecutive losing effort.

WAS over CHI, 87-84
Kevin Seraphin recorded 21 points and 13 rebounds, leading the Wizards to an 87-84 victory over the Eastern Conference- leading Bulls. Chicago, playing without its top scorers in Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, had a chance to tie at the buzzer, but C.J. Watson's three-point attempt fell short. Washington snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Bulls, thanks in part to John Wall posting 16 points and five assists while committing only one turnover. Richard Hamilton paced the Bulls with 22 points, while Watson and Carlos Boozer added 17 and 16 points, respectively, in defeat. Despite the loss, Chicago still leads the conference by 2 1/2 games over the Miami Heat with five to play.

DEN over HOU, 105-102
Arron Afflalo scored 26 points, Ty Lawson dropped in 25 and the Denver Nuggets gained some cushion over the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference standings with a 105-102 victory at Toyota Center. Al Harrington added 15 points and nine rebounds for the Nuggets, who took both portions of a home-and home series to take a two-game lead over the Rockets for the seventh seed in the Western Conference. Chandler Parsons and Goran Dragic each netted 21 points to pace Houston, which has lost its last four games to fall to just a half-game ahead of Phoenix for the eight and final playoff spot in the West. The Suns are currently playing Portland and can pull even with the Rockets with a win.

UTA over DAL, 123-121 (3OT)
Al Jefferson scored 28 points and tied a career-high with 26 rebounds, several in key moments, and the Utah Jazz came out on top of a triple-overtime thriller, 123-121, over the Mavs on Monday. Gordon Hayward netted 24 points and Devin Harris contributed 23 for the Jazz, who snapped a two-game skid. Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll donated 16 and 15 points, respectively. Utah moved a half-game behind Phoenix and Houston for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. The Jazz own the tiebreaker over both teams. Dirk Nowitzki poured in 40 points, Jason Terry supplied 27 off the bench and Vince Carter had 18 points to go with 12 boards for the Mavericks, who have lost two straight.

PHX over POR, 125-107
Marcin Gortat paced a balanced offensive attack with 20 points and 10 rebounds as the Phoenix Suns rolled to a 125-107 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday at U.S. Airways Center. Channing Frye finished with 19 points and six rebounds, Jared Dudley added 18 points, Shannon Brown netted 16, while Markieff Morris donated 14 and six rebounds. Sebastian Telfair rounded out the double-figure scorers with 12 for the Suns, who have won two of their last three and pulled into a tie for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference with the Houston Rockets, who lost to Denver on Monday. Steve Nash added 13 assists and six points. Jamal Crawford and J.J. Hickson led the way for the Blazers with 22 points apiece, while Wesley Matthews added 19 points and Luke Babbitt had 18. Nolan Smith contributed 14 points for Portland, which has lost three straight and is officially eliminated from playoff contention.

LAC over OKC, 92-77
Blake Griffin netted 17 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as the Los Angeles Clippers downed the Oklahoma City Thunder, 92-77, in a battle of Western Conference playoff teams. Nick Young provided a spark off the bench with 19 points and Randy Foye contributed 13 for the Clippers, who have won four straight, bookended by victories over the Thunder. Los Angeles had clinched a playoff berth earlier Monday with Houston's loss. Kevin Durant poured in a game-high 24 points for Oklahoma City, which lost the season series 3-1 and have dropped four straight against the Clippers in LA. The Thunder now sit tied for the top spot in the West after the Spurs defeated the Warriors on Monday.

SAS over GSW, 120-99
Six different Spurs scored in double figures as San Antonio cruised to a 120-99 victory over the Warriors at ORACLE Arena on Monday. Gary Neal led the way with 17 points apiece, Tiago Splitter had 15, Tim Duncan added 13, Manu Ginobili netted 12, and Danny Green and DaJuan Blair chipped in 11 and 10, respectively to lift the Spurs, who have taken 14 straight from Golden State. San Antonio now sits tied for the top spot in the Western Conference after Oklahoma City lost to the Clippers on Monday. Nate Robinson poured in a season-high 30 points, Klay Thompson followed with 29 and Dorrell Wright tallied 17 as the Warriors dropped their fifth straight.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
April 15: Carmelo Anthony (NYK) - 42
April 16: LeBron James (MIA) – 37

Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are slowly gaining some
momentum towards the playoffs.
(image by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
April 15: Joakim Noah (CHI) – 17
April 16: Al Jefferson (UTA) – 26

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
April 15: Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 16
April 16: Jameer Nelson (ORL), Steve Nash (PHX), & Andre Miller (DEN) – 13

Rajon Rondo continues his playmaking prominence
for the Boston Celtics.

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
April 15: Daniel Orton (ORL) – 5
April 16: Ronnie Brewer (CHI) – 5

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
April 15: Greg Stiemsma (BOS) – 6
April 16: Samuel Dalembert (HOU) – 7

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
April 15: Wesley Matthews (POR) – 8
April 16: Danny Granger (IND) & Devon Harris (UTA) – 5

April 15, 2012 First Five
C – Joakim Noah (CHI) – 20pts, 17rebs, 3asts, 2blks, 1stl
F – Josh Smith (ATL) – 26pts, 8rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 2blks
F – Carmelo Anthony (NYK) – 42pts, 9rebs, 5asts, 1stl
G – Wesley Matthews (POR) – 31pts, 8 treys, 3rebs, 3asts, 1stl, 1blk
G – Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 28pts, 9rebs, 4asts, 1blk

Honorable Mention:
Jameer Nelson (ORL) – 21pts, 9asts, 7rebs
Rajon Rondo (BOS) – 20pts, 16asts, 6rebs, 1stl
LeBron James (MIA) – 29pts, 10rebs, 3asts, 2stls

April 16, 2012 First Five
C – Al Jefferson (UTA) – 28pts, 26rebs, 2blks, 1ast, 1stl
F – Dirk Nowitzki (DAL) – 40pts, 9rebs, 6asts
F – Ryan Anderson (ORL) – 26pts, 16rebs, 1ast, 1blk
G – LeBron James (MIA) – 37pts, 7asts, 6rebs, 2stls, 1blk
G – Klay Thompson (GSW) – 29pts, 8rebs, 5asts, 2stls

Honorable Mention:
Kris Humphries (NJN) – 29pts, 8rebs, 2asts, 1blk
Nate Robinson (GSW) – 30pts, 7asts, 3 treys, 2rebs, 1stl
Jeff Teague (ATL) – 19pts, 10rebs, 4 asts

*Game recaps were compiled and compressed from the Associated Press and the Sports Network.
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