When the Charlotte Bobcats held a 10-2 advantage on the offensive glass and were getting everything they wanted in the paint, it was the old mantra "at least this is still a game" that kept hope alive. In fact, it felt as if there was never a true concern in the Indiana Pacers getting their act together and pulling off their second win in two nights. Using that dominance in the paint and on the boards, Charlotte pushed a 6-point halftime lead.
Charlotte's back court, led by D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson had their way with the Indiana defenders, leading the way for the Bobcats 49-43 halftime lead, in what amounted to a very ugly first half for Indiana. They rebounded at their worst and they defended at their worst. Though, it is somewhat comforting to know two of the team's strengths, or at least assumed strengths, on the young season were what was keeping them in a hole.
After the half, they tackled those very issues, storming out of the locker room on a 19-5 run they used to build an eight point lead of their own. Augustin and Henderson helped draw the game back to 2 late in the third, but Indiana closed out on a 7-1 run while opening the fourth on a 6-0 run to effectively put the game away. Charlotte made efforts to cut the game back to single digits, but each time, a Pacer stepped up, to keep the game at arm's length, eventually ballooning the lead up to 20 that was capped on an A.J. Price to Paul George alley oop to seal the 99-77 win.
The Pacers had another great offensive showing, finishing above 50%, while holding Charlotte to under 33% on the night. Indiana was killed on the glass early, out-rebounded by 11 in the first half, allowing ten offensive boards. They improved big on their rebounding, cutting the difference to just three at the end. Charlotte did end up with 22 offensive boards, but Charlotte's 12 second half boards weren't as effective when they not only weren't capitalizing on second chance opportunities as frequently, but failed to keep Indiana off the glass themselves, who had 11 in the second half.
Injuries suddenly became a mild concern as well. Danny Granger sprained his left ankle early, aggravated it on a foul play, but did play through it. Roy Hibbert as well sprained his ankle; his right, but was able to finish out the game. With just one day off in between games for the foreseeable future, and a tougher schedule coming up, the Pacers can ill afford to have either ankle linger.
After the jump, the Pacers improve to 6-2 for the first time since 2004:
- The Bobcats changed their starting lineup to counter the Pacers bigs, a practice Indiana fans are all too familiar with in recent years. While the idea worked on the offensive end, Roy Hibbert and David West made quick work of the Charlotte bigs for most of the night. West was a catalyst early in the game to keep the Pacers within striking distance, but it was Big Roy who time and time again overpowered the Bobcats front line, totaling a season high 20 points to alongside 8 boards and three blocks.
- George Hill had a big night as well, going 6-8 from the field for 13 points. His play in the second half was big for the Pacers as they built their lead. After struggling to open the season, Hill has come around in a big way to be the bench asset the Pacers have needed. It seems that the full-time move to the two guard has done wonders for his overall production. Hint hint?
- When Hibbert went out with his ankle injury, it was Jeff Foster that stepped in and kept the momentum going. Before you could blink, Foster had grabbed three offensive boards and created a dismal atmosphere for Charlotte. The health of Foster once again proved to be one of the most important keys to the Pacers success this season.
- The Pacers point guard play once again helped shape the outcome. Darren Collison had a quiet 14 points and 8 rebounds, and while A.J. Price didn't quite have the dazzling flow he had last night, he provided stability to the second unit. Collison did however struggle with the lightning quick D.J. Augustin in the first half (as Paul George struggled the same with Gerald Henderson), but aside from a stretch where Augustin and Henderson were able to pull Charlotte within two, the backcourt defensive improved tremendously. Augustin finished with 20 points, but had just 3 on 0-4 shooting in the fourth quarter.