The Indiana Pacers cruised to a blowout win against the Charlotte Bobcats. In other words, Indiana finally looked like they had an advantage in a game and played like they were rested, played like they were at home, and played like they were the better team. While that should be expected, recent history for the Pacers has suggested that's a taller order than previously anticipated, but tonight showed a lot of good things on both ends of the floor, even if they can't take all of the credit for playing well because the Bobcats were able to take a fair bit of the credit for how poorly they played themselves.
The game should've been over after Indiana stormed out to a 21-2 lead, a run where following Charlotte's first basket that put the game at 5-2, Frank Vogel took a 20 second time out to shore up the defense. It seemed to work as the Pacers rode a 16-0 run to get the game up to 21-2. The Bobcats, who had just two points through the first rattled off a 10-0 run before A.J. Price stopped the bleeding to finish the quarter with a big three pointer.
The Bobcats actually played well offensively to open up the second quarter, where they started 7-8 from the field to keep the heat on a Pacers second unit that for all intents and purposes played absolutely terribly in the first half. Boneheaded turnovers gave Charlotte enough life to keep the game within 10, as the Pacers offense required themselves to respond to everything the Bobcats had going for them in the second. But as the starters came back in following a Charlotte timeout, Indiana rode a 13-5 run to close the half, getting back in control of a game they had lost to a degree.
Out of the half, it was all a formality as the Pacers dropped 35 in the third quarter ballooning their lead all the way up to 46 in the fourth quarter to come away with a comfortable victory they needed to grab. The good news in the middle of the blowout? The bench (especially in regards to Lance Stephenson) played a much better game in the second half to largely erase their opening transgressions.
As mentioned, the Pacers aren't allowed to take all of the credit for the win. They did well, especially as the starters returned in the second quarter, but the level of play Charlotte had was among some of the worst you'll find in professional basketball. The Pacers were quick to anticipate plays and the Bobcats struggled to even complete passes, much less put points on the board. Through the game's opening run, the Pacers were slow to pick up defensive assignments and the kinds of shots Charlotte missed was nothing short of maddening for Paul Silas and his staff. The Pacers simply had more energy tonight, which was great to see. It seemed every break went Indiana's way, which all comes down to being able to have that little bit of extra energy.
After the jump, some individual highlights:
- Roy Hibbert and David West were a dangerous front court tandem tonight, taking it to the Charlotte front line early and often. Roy had 18 and 14 on 7-8 shooting and David West followed with 14 and 8, punching home three first half blocks. A real treat regarding West were a few of his passes were laser beams in to Hibbert who finished at the rim. Speaking of finishing at the rim, Hibbert as well had some big jams, enough to make you wish the Pacers could get the Charlotte front court on a nightly basis.
- Interestingly enough, the only Pacer who didn't seem to have a solid offensive grasp tonight was Paul George, who finished with just 7 points, but the bright spots were definitely available on the defensive side of the ball where he was active in blocking the ball as well as crashing the boards. While his offensive game may be a bit touch and go right now, he can't possibly end up with a truly bad game as long as he continues to play strong defensively.
- The bench did have a bit of a rough go, letting Charlotte back into the game late in the first and into the second, but they cleaned up their act enough in the second half to come away with a largely positive showing. No one gets both sides of the spectrum tonight than Lance Stephenson, who seemed awfully excited about picking up some opportunistic fast break opportunities and getting way too out of control. He simply did not have a smart or good first half. Despite another eye rolling bull rush charge in the second half, he really came together for a solid half of basketball, ending up with a game high four steals, also having a game high four turnovers.
- Lob City was in full effect in the fourth quarter as A.J. Price set up Dahntay Jones and Tyler Hansbrough for a pair of beautiful alley oops. Tyler, however, still seems to be struggling to get his game to come together. He had some stretches late in the game where the good things came with a little more consistency. Certainly, there's little to complain about when you get 13 points on 4 field goal attempts.
As a whole, it was nice to see the Pacers on the right side of a blowout for a change given the recent games they've had. The dominating way in which they won was great to see. The schedule remains favorable as they host the New Orleans Hornets on Tuesday. The Hornets have won three straight games against some okay teams, but still only have seven wins on the year. The Pacers can ill afford to look past the them as the All-Star Break inches closer by the day.