All of a sudden, the Indiana Pacers are talking tough. After slumping over the steering wheel through two losses in Los Angeles, the Pacers were a pushing, shoving, flagrant-fouling, head-wagging, tough-talking bunch Sunday at Conseco Fieldhouse as they beat the Lakers 100-91.
"We're not a team that's going to be pushed around," said forward Jalen Rose.
"We were the aggressors," said forward Dale Davis.
"They played with heart today," said Pacers coach Larry Bird. "They battled today. They really took it serious."
Of course it didn't hurt that the Lakers were without star Kobe Bryant, out with a sprained ankle incurred in Game 2. Pacers star Reggie Miller, who said "I'll rest when I'm dead" and who punctuated a pair of late free throws with an emphatic shake of his head, as if saying "no" to a late Lakers comeback, admitted as much: "We knew they were short-handed, and it wasn't the real Laker team because Kobe wasn't out there," he said.
Bryant is a maybe for Game 4 Wednesday. Real Laker team or no, expect the Pacers, emboldened by a raucous home crowd and a Game 3 win, to continue talking tough.
And just what are they saying, anyway? "They weren't asking where the best restaurants were," Laker Rick Fox said.