Despite a defensive identity and being known as a team that struggles to score points, the Indiana Pacers once again made an offensive statement, topping the Golden State Warriors 108-97. The game was one of runs early, especially in the second quarter, but a 31-20 third quarter helped put the Pacers ahead for good. Indiana shot 48.8% for the game, shooting exceptionally well despite struggling from the three point arc and getting very little contribution from their bench.
In fact, it was mostly a three man show tonight between David West, George Hill, and Paul George, an unsurprising development when looking at how the season has been, but impressive when carrying the load for the team. All three reached 20 points for the night, led by David West, who had 28. West was crucial to Indiana's success tonight, not only shooting 12-16 from the field, but in managing the game at the points it needed managing.
West served as a bit of a regulator in a late game dust-up involving Roy Hibbert that led to his ejection. Hibbert and David Lee began to shove each other back and forth before Stephen Curry stepped in, grabbing Hibbert, getting thrown aside, escalating and leading to five technical fouls. The real concern wasn't so much in the scuffle; Hibbert certainly made it a point to not back down to getting shoved around by Curry and Lee, but in whether or not Hibbert will be available for Thursday night's game.
Hibbert had 13 points & 9 rebounds, serving up five blocks, really playing some solid ball with the starters, scoring and cleaning up around the rim, something he hasn't been the most effective at this year. If the league does hand down a suspension, in addition to imagining further punishment for Lee & Curry, Hibbert's presence inside will be notably missing against the Los Angeles Clippers. Indiana has thrived on their defense, and Hibbert has been perhaps the biggest factor in that defensive success, setting up an interesting scenario against the high flying Clippers.
Fortunately, the Pacers have plenty of help outside of Hibbert, including George Hill, who had 23 points to go with seven assists, really shooting lights out (9-14) to match a scorching Stephen Curry shot for shot in the early goings of the game. Hill may have struggled against the sharpshooting Curry, but made more than enough statements on the other end to keep the Pacers up when they needed to be up. Curry was dynamic tonight, shooting 14-20 with seven threes and scoring 38 points, just torching Indiana every time he touched the ball, but wasn't able to take advantage of opportunities late to combat the level West was playing at.
Paul George rounded out Indiana's leading scorers, having himself a solid shooting night of 9-17, shooting 2-9 from the beyond the arc for 21 points and 11 rebounds. All together, the three combined for 30-47 from the floor, shooting almost 81% from inside the three point arc. To even out the success of those three, the bench shot 21%, scoring 14. It was the bench that allowed Golden State's first run of the second quarter, continuing to make marginal at best impact. Danny Granger in his home debut had five, shooting 1-7, but getting to the line a few times. While he didn't look much better shooting the ball, he was more active tonight, making a few drives towards the basket.
Indiana's knack for forcing turnovers tonight really helped their cause, scoring 29 points on 20 Warriors turnovers, a number on lazy passes by Golden State, leading to 14 steals. Indiana had 13 themselves, but George needs to continue to work on his own passing, with a couple of poor decisions lending to 11 Golden State steals. The Pacers interior defense was fantastic all night, limiting a smaller Warriors front line to just 16 points in the paint.
All in all, the Pacers did a tremendous job closing the door on a Warriors team firmly in the playoff picture out West, who brought their own winning streak into Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The win is Indiana's fifth straight win, all five coming in double figures. They'll host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday for a big game with or without Roy Hibbert.
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