Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport
Indiana overcame a 22-point first half deficit to grab the win in New Orleans.
It certainly wasn't a first half worth revisiting. The Indiana Pacers scored 29 points, and needed a 5-0 run to close the half just to make it a 17-point game at halftime. They had 11 turnovers. They shot 30%. They allowed 50%. The New Orleans Hornets were simply beating them in every aspect of the game. But the mini-run they finished the first half with snowballed into a 22-2 run that would cut the game to one possession in the third quarter, one they outscored New Orleans 24-7 in before getting huge stretch play from David West and Co. to close the win.
While the comeback is impressive given the bevvy of excuses the Pacers could've used; road back-to-back, fourth game in five nights, layover in Cleveland, Indiana completely erased their first half performance with a great third quarter and a gutsy fourth. After scoring 29 in the first half, the Pacers allowed the Hornets to score just 29 in the second half, committing just three second half turnovers and getting easy buckets in the paint.
Two (or I guess three) players exemplified the first and second half difference. The backup point guard position saw a 180 when D.J. Augustin got burn over Ben Hansbrough. Hansbrough struggled with three turnovers in the first half, Augustin came in and played at a high level, dishing out three assists, grabbing a steal, and putting his teammates in positive position his entire time on the floor. Whether Augustin has learned his lesson from his demotion remains to be seen, but for tonight, he was spot on and really made a positive impact on the game when the team could ill afford a dropoff in their third quarter comeback.
The other flip was David West, who struggled with 2-9 shooting in the first half for five points, but exploded in the second half for 20 points, including those trademark West buckets down the stretch against Anthony Davis. While the first overall pick had 10 points, he was no match for West when it came to Winning Time. West was helped late by Lance Stephenson who also came on as the game progressed.
Stephenson had 10 points, including a big pair on an offensive rebound to put the Pacers up double figures. Stephenson had two rebounds, each offensive, and each leading to a follow-up bucket by Lance. Paul George had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and George Hill pitched in 12 of his own to go with six assists and five rebounds. Roy Hibbert dealt with some foul trouble, partially due to a big game from Robin Lopez, who had a season high 24 and 11 with six blocks for New Orleans.
Indiana came up when they had to and got a win they needed to grab. The win pushes the Pacers to 16-12 on the year, and with Chicago and Milwaukee each taking on losses, the Pacers are back on top the Central Division in a tie with the Bulls. The win marks the second straight three-game winning streak for the blue and gold, moving them to 6-1 in their last seven. They'll be off until December 26th, when they host Chicago.