From the outset, the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors were into a wild one, with the two teams hitting everything in sight, making it a high scoring 17-15 game in just over four minutes of action. But once the game settled down, the Pacers really carried the game in their favor by forcing turnovers and building a double digit advantage. The Pacers stormed out of the break with a 7-0 run to make it a 20 point game just over a minute into the third quarter.
Mark Jackson's timeout collected his Warriors, upped their defensive intensity, allowing them to respond with a 7-0 run of their own. The sloppiness of the third quarter for the Pacers helped create opportunities for Golden State as they pulled within single digits, with back-to-back threes making it a five point game 15 seconds into the fourth quarter. The Warriors were well within reach when they cut the lead to two two minutes later, but for every Golden State push, there was a gutsy Indiana play to keep the Warriors at bay.
Those big time buckets helped solidify one of Indiana's finer wins on the season, one that now has them sitting at 33-7. It was a game where everyone brought a little something to the table, where seven Pacers scored in the fourth quarter, and where Frank Vogel allowed his team to play through the game and every wave of Warriors offense. Vogel, after calling a timeout with 9:30 in the third quarter, didn't call for one until 2:31 left in the fourth. He tested his team's toughness and they were able to fight through everything thrown their way for the 102-94 victory.
Indiana had to contend with a physical, talented Golden State team, an excellent crowd, Stephen Curry, and the elements, as apparently the game was played on a hockey rink with all the guys slipping and falling down. The fact the Pacers were able to remain composed while even battling friction was a great sign and should only help this team moving forward as they look to improve on a handful of road losses.
All five starters reached double figures with 19 points from the bench (a victory by the way). Paul George led the way with 23, coming out in the first quarter with no regard for human existence, hitting six of his first nine shots. While he wasn't able to keep his shooting touch alive, he did hit a big shot (as well was pretty much every shot in the fourth quarter) to push Indiana's lead into multiple possessions.
His G2 counterpart George Hill was equally as important sticking in a huge three pointer to balloon Indiana's lead to seven as part of his 15 point night. Hill was 5-8 from the field and 3-4 from three point range despite early foul trouble. He helped offset a poor shooting night from Lance Stephenson, who scored 14 on 6-17 shooting. It was Lance's desire to sink jumpers that sunk his shooting performance despite him flirting with a triple double.
Stephenson had 10 rebounds and seven assists, but it wouldn't be a Lance Stephenson night if he didn't hit his only shot outside of the paint when the game was at its biggest; drilling a textbook no-no-no-yes! three pointer to make it a seven point game with three minutes remaining (not as if that stopped Golden State, who responded with a Klay Thompson three before Hill's responding triple).
Indiana's front line proved to be the most reliable offensively despite some foul issues late in the game. David West was just 6-15, but seemed to come through with a necessary bucket when the team needed one, scoring 17 points, grabbing five boards, dishing three assists, and picking up a pair of blocks for his trouble. Roy Hibbert on the other hand, was as close to automatic as you'll see him, scoring 14 on 7-11 shooting, notching a 14/13 double double.
The bench offered up some valuable minutes throughout the game. Danny Granger struggled shooting, but pulled in five boards and C.J. Watson scored only five, but was solid in spelling Hill in the first quarter and limiting what he could of Golden State's offense. Ian Mahinmi had perhaps the biggest bench impact, scoring six points on 2-2 shooting and 2-2 from the line with four rebounds, bringing in three offensive rebounds.
Luis Scola on the other hand helped kind of epitomize Indiana's second half. Scola struggled mightily against Golden State's defense, but remained active and kept with plays despite going just 3-9 from the field and failing to pick up a foul. He, like the team, seemed to have an extra step over the Warriors when it came to 50/50 plays. Indiana had 17 offensive rebounds, which allowed Indiana numerous second chance opportunities.
It's also worth noting that Indiana fell into turnover struggles in the third quarter, but tightened their play in the fourth, committing just a single turnover in the final quarter, forcing Curry into a missed three pointer that could've cut the game to one with 16 seconds remaining. As it stands, however, the Pacers got the stops they needed to close out an impressive start to their five game road swing. And with Miami losing, Indiana has opened up a relatively healthy 4.5 game lead as the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Pacers will move on to their next game from here, the first meeting of the year with the upstart Phoenix Suns, where they'll get a first hand glimpse at the improved play of Miles Plumlee and maybe catch a glimpse of Gerald Green's surprising season. It's another late tip, but if tonight's contest was any proof, the Pacers will make late nights worth staying up for.