USA TODAY Sports
Indiana needed all they could to top the Bobcats 96-88 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Indiana Pacers entered their Saturday night matchup with the Charlotte Bobcats without Paul George, who sat out his first game with health issues due to the flu. Out of the gate, it became a night long issue when the Charlotte Bobcats jumped out to an 8-0 lead and Indiana missed their first 11 shots from the field. Inside the three-point arc early, Indiana was a mess, missing shot after shot at the rim, but were able to grind their way into the lead by the second quarter thanks to hot three point shooting.
The team's struggles in transition opened a lot of opportunity for the Bobcats, who found themselves a part of the game throughout, shooting close to 50% all night, winning the fast break battle 18-8. But in the end, it was the resiliency of the Pacers' starters, led by David West and George Hill, with plenty of help by Lance Stephenson that pulled them through to their 10th straight victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and fourth overall.
David West led the Pacers with a triple-double on the night. West had 14 points, 12 boards, and 10 assists, his tenth coming on a Stephenson outlet that capped the game off nicely. West made his impact felt tonight in areas other than scoring despite leading the team in turnovers. George Hill led the Pacers in scoring with 19, making three three pointers, looking much healthier after a pair of games in which he was clearly being weighed down by his bronchitis.
Lance Stephenson was, in not much of a surprise, the flashiest player for the Pacers, scoring a season high of 17, grabbing seven boards and coming up with four steals. Stephenson was big at stretches, especially in letting the Pacers know it was okay to make layups. He had one offensive board, but it was a crucial one in the fourth quarter, anticipating a Hill floater and boxing out with authority for the easy put back.
Without George, Frank Vogel was left to tinker with the lineup, opting to play D.J. Augustin and George Hill as his back court, moving Stephenson to the three. Augustin was once again effective, shooting 5-9 for 18 points on four three pointers, salvaging an otherwise almost too-three-point-happy Pacers offense, an offense that tossed up 29, hitting 11. The other lineup change late was Vogel's decision to go with Ian Mahinmi over Roy Hibbert to end the game, one Ian came through on.
Mahinmi had five points and eight rebounds, but also had three blocks, and was key in some big plays after upping his level of play in the second half. Hibbert had nine and nine for the game, with eight offensive rebounds. Off the bench, Tyler Hansbrough provided a quality few minutes, hitting an and one and putting up the best block of his career. Gerald Green had two three pointers early, but struggled to make an impact, going 2-8 on three point shots. Dominic McGuire made his Pacers debut as a starter, providing two rebounds in his seven minutes.
The Pacers ultimately did what they had to do against the Bobcats despite a lot of struggles early and often. It wasn't the prettiest win, but they've hardly ever been pretty this year, with or without Paul George. They'll hope for a quick recovery from George when they begin a stint of seven road games in their next eight, beginning with their first trip to the newly minted Barclays Center, to face the Brooklyn Nets.