INDIANAPOLIS—It wasn't a season opening night filled with lasting memories or things that he'd like to recall after the plane left Atlanta.
But Jim O'Brien was quick to remember a stretch of Wednesday's loss to the Hawks that piqued his interest in a positive light.
"We were down 10 and the combination of Earl, Luther, Dante, Jeff, and Solomon gave us for a period of time the type of defense that is necessary for us to win basketball games," said O'Brien of a stretch in the third and fourth quarter when the Pacers grabbed the lead.
Notice anything interesting about that group? All but one (Jeff Foster) was in their first game in a Pacers uniform.
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"That's a positive for the night, of all of the negatives that we had, that was a positive," said forward Danny Granger of the play of the Pacers' new additions. "Hopefully that will continue for the rest of the season."
The four guys-Luther Head, Dahntay Jones, Solomon Jones, Earl Watson-scored a combined 47 points against Atlanta. A majority of them came in a 9:47 span between the third and fourth quarter, when the quartet scored 25 points in a 30-19 run that helped get the Pacers back in the game.
Watson-who lead the four with 20 points-hit a three-pointer with 9:03 remaining to give the Pacers their final lead of the night at 101-100.
"It was a great spark," said Granger of the new player's contributions. "They came in and they brought us back."
Watson, however, took little satisfaction from the effort, which ended in his first loss as a Pacer.
"We had a chance to get back into the game but their will took over at the end," said Watson of the opener. "There's a lot of areas that we have to grow in but it's a long season. A sense of urgency is always needed when your trying to make the playoffs."
For Dahntay Jones-who chipped in 17 points including 9-of-9 from the free throw line-the burst of scoring from the group of first-year players had a lot to do with their work during the pre-season.
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"We spend a lot of time on the same team in practice," said Jones. "We've become accustomed to each other but playing with the first unit as we mix it is a little bit of a learning process."
So is playing consistently, which plagued all of the Pacers in their 11 points loss to the Hawks on Wednesday. As it has been in the past, the defense struggled to keep Atlanta off the scoreboard while 25 turnovers sealed the team's fate down the stretch.
"Our guys could articulate exactly what we're looking for every bit as well as I can. We have to execute that and play that type of game with a certain dicipline that we lacked last night," said O'Brien.
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For Watson, doing so will take time, even if their play early might say something different.
"If you just concentrate on playing hard, and everything you do is for the win for the team, you kinda just fit in," said Watson. "Hopefully its not, but there could be points in the season where we have to get adjusted and you never know, that could happen at any time.
"So you just focus on the positives and just try to make the best out of every minute you can get ."