It wasn't much of a game for the first 36 minutes. Poor shooting, good defense, and herky jerky officiating made tonight's game against the Indiana Pacers and Charlotte Bobcats a difficult one to really appreciate. Despite that, Indiana's defense was in full force against a Bobcats team that has struggled on the season to score many points, holding them to 74, including first and third quarters where Charlotte scored just 25 points total. Indiana led most of the way, sometimes in double figures, sometimes less than that, but with the way points were being put up on the board, a six point lead felt at least twice that.
But in the fourth quarter, Indiana exploded. C.J. Watson was the catalyst of a 39-point fourth quarter with five of his six three pointers. Watson has struggled on the season from the three point arc, but water found its level in a big way tonight, with him going 6-7 on the night, his one miss a heat check late in the game after he'd already put in five. As a result, Watson had a game high 18. It was fitting that no one on either side broke 20 tonight. It just wasn't a night anybody had it going for 48 minutes.
Lance Stephenson wound up with 15 points and 10 rebounds, but was really ineffective in the first half, where he was scoreless with two boards and three turnovers. Paul George had a solid first half with 12 points, but foul trouble put him on the bench for much of the second half, sending his shot out of sync as he went just 1-6 in the second half.
It was really a rough night all around on offense for both teams. The Pacers wound up 38% on the night thanks to their big fourth quarter, but they were hovering in the low 30's as Charlotte shot just 31.3%. Watson was the only rotation player for either side to shoot above 50%, and that took an absurd three point barrage to simply get there. While Indiana's league leading defense shutting down an anemic Bobcats offense isn't a big surprise, Indiana struggling to break through Charlotte's defense might be. But Charlotte has been a solid defensive team this season, finding themselves in the top 10 for opponent FG% and defensive rating.
David West was a toasty 3-9, at least compared to Roy Hibbert's 4-14 night and George Hill's 2-10 showcase. The two teams were able to really find traction on the scoreboard thanks to the frequency of whistles. There were 50 foul whistles that resulted in 60 free throw attempts for both sides. Hibbert and West made the most of their nights by leading the team in free throw attempts at eight and seven apiece.
Hibbert had a 14 point, 10 rebound double double, adding a pair of blocks to his league leading total. West followed with 11 & 8, leaving Hill the only starter to not find double figures, though he did have seven rebounds, and was a team leader with Paul George in assists with four. Luis Scola had a solid night off the bench with eight points and seven rebounds to lead a less than impressive (minus Watson's fourth quarter) bench showcase.
As some of the negatives go, Indiana continues to struggle keeping opponents off the offensive glass. Charlotte brought in 11 despite holding a 14 rebound advantage on the night. More misses create more offensive rebounding opportunities, sure, but it's something the Pacers could certainly stand to clean up moving forward. But it hasn't hurt the Pacers to this point, as they move to a franchise best 14-1, pushing their current winning streak to five.
The Pacers will have a day off for Thanksgiving before having one final home game before the team heads out West for their proving ground road trip. They'll host the Washington Wizards on Friday, a game that is anything but guaranteed given the level of play of John Wall in recent games. In the meantime, we here at Indy Cornrows wish you and yours a safe and happy Thanksgiving.