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Indiana Pacers 105, New Jersey Nets 86: Paul George, Dahntay Jones Lead Team Effort in Extending Win Streak

An early tip on Super Bowl Sunday is easy to go unnoticed, especially without local television coverage, but the Pacers, on their first true winning streak of the year, looked to continue their positive play on the road against a New Jersey Nets team that has played well at home on the year. In the teams’ previous meeting, the Pacers slaughtered the Nets, and road struggles, combined with thoughts of revenge, surely had New Jersey on edge.

Both teams began the game scorching from the floor, but early Pacers turnovers gave New Jersey a quick lead that Indiana shut down with a 10-0 run. The Pacers continued to shoot well and built a nine-point first quarter lead despite sloppy play leading to six turnovers in the first. New Jersey worked to cut into the lead into the second, but Dahntay Jones helped soften the blow by scoring Indiana’s first 6 points of the quarter. With the Nets threatening, Paul George went about taking the game over, scoring eight of the Pacers’ next ten points (with the two Roy Hibbert points coming on a George miss).

George’s explosion (ripe with highlights galore), not only helped push the game to a double digit lead the Nets would have trouble cracking the rest of the afternoon, but gave fans of the Pacers more and more reasons to feel good about the young man’s progression. The Pacers took a 13-point lead into the locker room. In the third quarter, a hot shooting Mike Dunleavy, who had 5 three pointers, showed up to crush any run the Nets would try and piece together.

With the Nets down, but not out heading into the fourth quarter, the Pacers would need a closer, just in time for Dahntay Jones to return to score ten straight Pacers points, part of his season high 18 points. Active and smart play from Jones helped keep the Nets at by as Tyler Hansbrough would deliver his first points of the game to put Indiana up 20 and on their way to the team’s fourth straight win.

Indiana moves to 4-0 in the Frank Vogel era, and the team has really taken advantage of their schedule by making small steps up in opponents every game, leading to an increase in confidence. Despite some early turnover issues, but overcame it as the game progressed and ended up with a respectable 15 on the night. Defensively, the Pacers held the Nets to 42% shooting, and 4-16 from deep, but did allow 16 offensive rebounds, despite not allowing one New Jersey player to dominate the offensive glass.

But it was a great team effort that showed up for Indiana. Throughout the game, guys were able to come through for the team, leading to six Pacers players scoring in double digits with Josh McRoberts and Hansbrough finishing up with 8 points themselves.

After the jump, this wasn’t the Super Bowl? What is? Celtics/Magic?

  • Paul George’s explosion in the second quarter was mesmerizing. If there’s any feeling the Pacers fans are building up George too much, there was certainly no proof of that today. Even though George’s growth can almost be viewed from game to game, we haven’t seen this yet. Today we saw Paul George take over a game. It was a very short stretch, but his activity on both sides of the floor pushed the Pacers from a five-point game to a double digit lead. He would fuel that to 14 points and 6 rebounds, with a pair of steals for good measure. It’s getting hard to not get excited about his prospects, you know?
  • Dahntay Jones played the role of the closer today, and did so in remarkable fashion. Since his signing, the Pacers have caught glimpses of D.Jones on the offensive end, mostly out of necessity last year, and despite him being streaky, he has been misused in his entire tenure. With Vogel’s new rotations and Brandon Rush’s absence, Dahntay has stepped in tremendously, making a case that maybe Rush shouldn’t be returning to the rotation anytime soon.
  • Mike Dunleavy started off hot. He made his first four shots, two from deep, and would fuel that continued to scorch the Nets on 6-8 with five three pointers for 17 points. Dunleavy’s play has been understated of late, but with today’s game, Dunleavy pushes himself above 40% on the year from three point land, and he continues to provide a huge lift to the Pacers, upping his average to 15.6 and extending his streak of games with two three pointers to 10, the longest since Danny Granger’s mark from 2008-09. He’s still eight games shy of Reggie Miller’s Pacers record of 18 games.
  • Danny Granger had another poor shooting night. Unfortunately, compared to recent nights, he wasn’t able to get to the line effectively. His contributions weren’t in demand tonight, but with the Heat coming on Tuesday, the Pacers will certainly need all they can get from him. Darren Collison meanwhile had himself a rough game. After curbing his turnovers for most of the year (likely due to less ball handling), he’s fallen back into the TO struggles he suffered through in his rookie season. He committed five turnovers in the game, as the team works hard to tighten up their belt in the ball handling department.
  • The Pacers frontline continued to play exceptionally well. Not only did they hold Brook Lopez to 5-13 shooting to 13 points and leaving Derrick Favors high and dry with just 2 points and 3 rebounds, but Josh McRoberts finished the game with 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, Tyler Hansbrough continued to show why no one wants to play against him. Roy Hibbert shot 50% from the field again and Jeff Foster continued to play well, giving Vogel all the reason he needs to stick with his front line rotation that will be a huge key to Tuesday’s game in Miami.

Well that’s what's on deck. After easing into the Frank Vogel era by defeating four teams the team had every right to win against, the Pacers will be traveling to Miami, Florida to go against the Miami Heat. In their previous meeting, the Pacers won 93-77, still the most lopsided defeat the Heat have taken this season when their big three all take the court together. The Heat have gotten their ship righted at least in regards to how they handle below .500 teams, but this Pacers team is confident and ready to put on a repeat performance and walk away with another win. Regardless of what happens Tuesday, this team is playing well. Enjoy it as much as you can.