As has been the story all season, if the Indiana Pacers aren't being led by David West, it's George Hill. If it's not George Hill, it's David West. And if it's not one of them, well, it's probably both of them. Tonight, the Indiana Pacers got a full dose of #21 and #3, who put the Pacers on their back in a game against the Sacramento Kings Indiana couldn't afford to let slip away.
The Pacers jumped out to an early lead in the first and third quarters, but play from DeMarcus Cousins and Jimmer Fredette kept the Kings within striking distance if they weren't in the lead. When the Pacers pushed forward, Sacramento always found some points, mostly at the free throw line in the fourth quarter. In the end, Hill and West rose to the occasion as the Pacers pulled to .500 on the season at 8-8, giving them the most wins in the Central Division.
David West led the Pacers tonight with a 31/11 double double, those 31 points a season high, shooting 13-20 from the field. West was a threat all night, capping his night on a late game fade away that might've been a bad shot on most nights, but was a lock to go through the net tonight. West was joined by George Hill who had 25 points, also pitching in 8 & 6 in the assist and rebound category.
The reliance on West and Hill was necessary given the general offensive ineffectiveness of the rest of the starting lineup. Lance Stephenson had another invisible game, while he and Paul George couldn't shoot the ball to save their lives tonight, combining for nine missed free throws. George, while not a factor on the scoreboard, did make plays elsewhere, finishing up with nine assists. Roy Hibbert had a nice start to the third quarter, but he had his handful with a 19/16 double double game from DeMarcus Cousins, really throwing his rhythm on both ends in one of Hibbert's worst defensive games of the year.
The bench struggled in the first half, giving up the team's early lead, but by the end, most of them had come out with a largely positive game. Sam Young played big tonight, scoring 13 points with five boards and four assists, including a huge three late in the game to help seal the win. He was able to get help from D.J. Augustin, who had eight. The improvement of the bench in the second half didn't necessarily limit what Sacramento wanted to do offensively with Jimmer Fredette and Francisco Garcia playing well, but guys were able to start making plays for the Pacers, which was a nice sight following the first half struggles.
The win has really shifted the Pacers' success on the road, where they've won three straight after an abysmal 1-6 road start, also improving them to 5-2 in their last seven games overall. The win featured just one second half turnover and 27 assists on 37 FGs. All in all, it was a really sharp effort from the Pacers, who have really started to find a groove since switching up their offensive schemes. Whether it's something they can rely on has yet to be seen, but an increase in watchable basketball and an increase in wins tend to go hand in hand and have lately for the blue and gold.
Indiana will finish up their California road trip with a chance at perfection when they face the Golden State Warriors in Oakland tomorrow night in another late tip. The 9-6 Warriors are one of the NBA's surprise stories, sitting atop the Pacific Division through 15 games.
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