The Indiana Pacers moved to 18-2 on the season after a convincing blowout win against the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center. The win was Indiana's first since January 4, 2002, snapping an 11-game skid. The win also puts them at 9-2 on the road and 3-1 on their current road trip. In other words? The Pacers aren't too bad of a team right now. They put their skill on full display in the second and third quarters as they outscored the Spurs 67-37 and leading by as many as 26 points in the fourth quarter.
Indiana found themselves down to the Spurs in the first quarter as San Antonio came out blazing. The Spurs scored 28 in the first quarter. They expanded an eight point first quarter advantage into 11 in the second, but the game felt much worse than that. The Pacers didn't seem to have any rhythm, one of those rare times when it felt like a blessing to only be down 11. The game flipped in Indiana's favor when Ian Mahinmi quickly picked up his third foul, as Frank Vogel went smaller with David West and Luis Scola up front. The Pacers went on to outscore San Antonio 27-13 to close out after West came into the game, heading into the half up 52-48.
In the second half, the Pacers hit seven of their first eight shots to push the lead to 16, some minor Spurs pushes were quickly bowled over by Indiana's balanced attack, with the game moving up to 26 in the final period. The Spurs used a late 18-2 run to make the game interesting, but San Antonio just didn't have enough time to push the lead to any closer than 10. The final score of 111-100 doesn't give you the whole story, but it does tell you how keyed in the Pacers were offensively in a season high scoring night.
Indiana shot 53.5% on the night with nine three pointers, and a focused 26-28 from the free throw line. They controlled the ball exceptionally well until the Spurs won the turnover battle in their late flurry. All in all, it was a showcase performance from the Indiana Pacers, who had all seven scorers reach double figures. All seven of them provided valuable stretches of key plays to help aid Indiana towards the win.
Paul George led the way with 28 points. George scored 11 straight Indiana points late to push Indiana into the lead. George looked every bit one of the five best players in the NBA tonight as he put the team on his back for that stretch in the second quarter. It's been mentioned just a couple of times this season how big an impact George has made on this year's team, and for him to not only shoot 9-14, but hit all four of his three pointers and manage to get to the line six times, it just goes to show the value of his game for Indiana and their success.
West and Scola played some pretty mean "small ball," as West made the most of his matchup against Matt Bonner, filling up the stat sheet with 20 points on 9-12 shooting and eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks. Scola on the other hand had his first double double of the season with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Whether Vogel planned on using the two as a matchup advantage or simply as a response to Mahinmi's foul trouble, it was the single move that altered the game the most.
Roy Hibbert still had a solid night with a 12 & 10 double double of his own, scoring eight in the first quarter. George Hill was a key part of pushing Indiana's lead around the half, scoring 10 of Indiana's 12 points to close the second and open the third, doing his best Tony Parker impression against Parker to give Indiana a double figure advantage they wouldn't relinquish.
With everything clicking, it only made sense for Lance Stephenson, despite his three point struggles, to hit back-to-back triples in the third quarter as part of his 15 points. Stephenson had a fairly blah first half, but came alive in the second half, helping to push the lead forward. C.J. Watson helped play the closer, scoring nine of his 12 in the fourth quarter, converting on key free throws late as the Spurs threatened to push the game within reach.
Aside from Mahimni's foul issues, the only real negative on the night was Orlando Johnson's play. Johnson went scoreless in 16 minutes, missing all five of his shots, including three behind the arc. His decision making in the first half helped contribute to San Antonio's double figure lead, and despite a pair of steals, he came away with a whopping -20 in the box score, if those kinds of numbers mean anything to you.
All in all, it was a convincing win for the Pacers on the road against a team they've struggled mightily with over the years. But it wouldn't be the road trip it is if they didn't have a quick turnaround at Oklahoma City tomorrow evening. The game will tip off at 7 PM Eastern time, and will be the last of their five game road trip.
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