Last night's game in Indianapolis was a reminder to Pacer fans why the Hawks are a playoff team and the Pacers are not quite there yet.
In the first half, many of the reasons for excitement in this growing young team were on display. Roy Hibbert controlled the paint and scored in a variety of ways down low.
The defense worked hard, battled, rebounded and contained the athletic Atlanta team.
The most encouraging part had to be Danny Granger. He seemed to take it as a personal challenge to be better than Joe Johnson, and he unquestionably was. He shut him down defensively and took him right to the rim offensively.
In the second half, however, the Pacers' weaknesses shined brightest. Josh McRoberts is not a starting NBA power forward. And the Pacers frontcourt options after Hibbert are very thin, especially with Tyler Hansbrough out with an ankle sprain.
Josh Smith abused whoever the Pacers put on him, mostly James Posey. Smith finished with 25 points. On a night when the Pacers handled Joe Johnson and Al Horford, the Hawks showed their depth with Smith's scoring, Jamal Crawford breaking down the defense, and Mike Bibby knocking down shots all over the floor.
Indy played hard, but just couldn't match up with the threats of the Hawks. A good sign, though is that they can hang in with teams like that. And with their outside shooting, if they are hot, they can beat anybody. The Pacers were only 4-18 from the 3 pt line last night, which won't get it done against a top team.
The Pacers (4-5) should have a good chance to get back to .500 with the 1-10 Clippers coming to Conseco Fieldhouse tomorrow night.