A second-half collapse, multiple defensive rebounding lapses and a turnover-prone fourth quarter -- although these three facets of a basketball game have been the face of the Indiana Pacers this season, it was the Rockets that took on the role during a 2009 throwback road victory for the blue and gold Saturday night.
Behind an offensive resurgence led by Danny Granger (36 points) and T.J. Ford (23 points), the Pacers climbed back from a double-digit first-half deficit to snap a four-game losing streak with a 125-115 win.
The Pacers took advantage of a fresh-faced Rockets' lineup that featured four new players after this week's trade deadline. Despite Aaron Brooks and Luis Scola dominating with a quick, uptempo inside-outside game, the Pacers were able to match quip-for-quip once Ford decided to take over during the third quarter. Granger, who was aggressive from the get-go, and Ford helped rally the Pacers from nine down to start the third stanza as Indiana outscored Houston by 11 by the start of the fourth. Ford put the offensive burden on his shoulders as he dropped 19 of his 23 points in the second half.
The Pacers used an 11-2 surge at the end of the third quarter for a short 90-88 lead. A last-second Houston basket made it 90-all heading into the fourth. Instead of the typical offensive freeze and defensive lapses down the stretch, the Pacers held together, turning the ball over only once during the final period while forcing five Houston turnovers. Indiana used a very late run to pull away from Houston with less than three minutes remaining. Ahead 112-110 (thanks to three straight baskets from Ford) the blue and gold rattled off 10 straight points, including two Granger 3-point daggers, to seal the win.
More on the Pacers fun win after the jump.
- Solomon Jones was huge in many ways that didn't appear in the box score tonight. Deflected rebounds, on-the-mark passes and big block outs helped lead the way for the Pacers comeback down the stretch. He had the monster offensive deflection to Granger in the corner for the clinching 3-pointer. It was nice to finally a Pacer getting offensive boards and doing something with them.Troy Murphy added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Pacers, who improved to 7-21 on the road. Aaron Books led the Rockets with 26 points and seven assists, and Luis Scola added 25 points and 11 rebounds.
- Granger finally had a stellar shooting night as he got a rhythm flowing early by attacking the soft post defense before throwing in 4-of-6 shots from beyond the arc. He was overall 12-of-17 from the field.
- Troy Murphy was rock solid from start to finish tonight as well. The starting power forward dropped 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds and even tallied the coveted reverse dunk that is so special.
- Kevin Martin was the only new Rocket to enter the game Saturday night. He came into the game with 5:50 to play in the first quarter and received a standing ovation. Although his performance was 50x better than Antawn Jamison's debut the other night for the Cavs, it was still apparent that he wasn't as in-sync as he's going to be in the future. Good night to catch him in Houston. Martin still finished with 14 points, six rebounds and five assists.
- Brandon Rush and Earl Watson combined for 20 points as the starting backcourt tandem, but both were non-existent late in the game with coach Jim O'Brien stuck with the players who were playing the best at the time (neat concept). Also of note, Dahntay Jones only tallied eight minutes and had three points.