It's been a nice reversal of fortune since the Indiana Pacers began the season 3-6. While they've still got a long way to go regarding their bench, Paul George and Roy Hibbert have found varying levels of consistency, but consistency nonetheless, to give some help to George Hill and David West. The team has gone 9-5 since, the team carving a nice niche with one of the league's premier defenses.
Defense was definitely the key tonight to holding the Philadelphia 76ers at bay. The bench accounted for just 12 points, but were able to still come away with a positive game thanks to their ability to get enough defensive stops against a Sixers team that exploited the pick and pop, and found a way to hit shots throughout the night. Tyler Hansbrough made the biggest impact off the bench tonight with his rebounding, leading to five points of his own, and creating extra possessions for the Pacers with three offensive boards.
So for what the bench was able to at least hold on to, it was the starters who turned the game into a win, led by the big time play of Paul George, who in his 28 points tonight continued to show some incredibly special tools. Paul was 9-17 from the floor, 5-7 from the three point arc, totaled three blocks and six boards, and was crucial in big moments for Indiana tonight. If there's a drawback? He needs to quit cramping up at the end of games, but he spoke about that after the game with Brooke Olzendam, saying he should be drinking more liquids.
George Hill meanwhile tallied his first career triple-double on a 15/10/10 night. The 10th rebound was originally set up to come on Philly's last miss, but Gerald Green pulled down the long rebound. Statisticians found the 10th rebound in the second quarter, originally credited to Roy Hibbert, giving Hill his sought after triple-double. With or without the triple-double, Hill was big down the stretch for the Pacers in their 9-2 stretch to close the game with a big three and a great find under the basket to Roy Hibbert.
Hibbert was big early, 10 points in the first quarter as part of a quality 19 & 13 night. Hibbert was there with every rebound, getting shots to go that simply haven't gone easily this year. While he was mostly matched up against Kwame Brown and took advantage of it, it'd be nice if this kind of effort could start finding some consistency. David West rounded the quality starter play, as he finished with 14 points and six boards. West shot just 5-17 from the floor, leaving a number of shots short, but came through when he went to the basket.
Indiana played a solid game all around, outrebounding Philadelphia, scoring 40 in the paint and outscoring them 18-9 in points off turnovers despite losing the turnover battle. Evan Turner was big for Philadelphia, with a 22 point, 10 rebound double double, carrying Philly to keep them in the game. The Pacers shot just 63% from the free throw line, however, and a dreadful close to the first half had the potential to put them in a horrible position when the Pacers allowed Philly to score six points in the final four seconds of the first half, two on a bad gamble by Paul George, four off of bad turnovers.
Fortunately, they didn't let it ruin their chances, as they were able to flip the momentum, and the lead, back in their favor out of the locker room. The Pacers got the win with heavy starter minutes, and find themselves in position to get their first three game winning streak when they face the Detroit Pistons tomorrow night in a back-to-back at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
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