After last night's debacle in Orlando, the Indiana Pacers left little doubt on the outcome of tonight's contest against the Denver Nuggets, as part of a season high 39-point blowout in a 119-80 win. The Indiana offense struggled early, allowing Denver to take an 11-10 lead halfway through the first quarter, but David West put the team on his back as the Pacers ran off a 19-3 run into the second quarter.
West had 17 first quarter points and it was clear he wasn't going to let the Pacers fall back from their lofty scoreboard advantage. The Nuggets did manage to shave eight points off a 37-20 Indiana lead, managing to draw the game into single digits and keep the game within striking distance in the 11-point range against the Indiana bench. Indiana once again closed the second quarter on a big run, 14-4, to push a 61-40 halftime lead.
Little changed in the third quarter as the Pacers pushed their lead to 30 points thanks to an 18-5 run that would put the game on ice, opening up 12 minutes of garbage time for Indiana. The Pacers' offense was on point tonight, huge runs in each of the first three quarters helped blow the game wide open, but they shot 57.5% on the night with 13 offensive rebounds. The offense wasn't the only thing going tonight; the Pacers were locked in on the defensive end.
Indiana allowed the Nuggets just 31.5% from the field, while picking up eight blocks and allowing just three fast break points on the night. The Pacers allowed just 56 points through the first three quarters, which helped them move to 33-1 on the season when they allow under 95 points, thanks to quarters of 20, 20, and 16 points (before the Nuggets scored a game high 24 in the fourth).
West was the catalyst for Indiana's success tonight. He had 17 of his game high 25 points in the first quarter to set the tone for the Pacers being able to stay focused and not let a big lead slip away on the second night of a back-to-back. West was 11-13 on the night with a pair of blocks. Part of Indiana's loss last night came from their inability to find West with the game needing to calm down and West made up for it tonight, ending an 8-2 Nuggets run that put them up 11-10 to keep Denver from ever seeing the lead again.
Roy Hibbert was much more involved tonight as well, picking up a 14 point, 12 rebound double double with four blocks on his own. All five starters reached double figures with plenty of balance. Paul George scored 12 points on 4-10 shooting with five rebounds and four assists, Lance Stephenson had 12 with six rebounds, and George Hill was the last to reach double figures, scoring 10 while also dishing out five assists.
The bench played much better tonight, with the ability to go point for point with a second quarter Denver run, and helped the Pacers obliterate the Nuggets on the boards 56-37, including eight rebounds from Luis Scola, who had one of his best shooting games, scoring 11 points on 4-8 shooting. Ian Mahinmi also played exceptionally well, scoring seven points and grabbing nine rebounds, while making some nice stands on the defensive end of the floor.
Danny Granger played about as well as he has lately with nine points on 3-6 shooting, and in garbage time, Solomon Hill (4 pts, 2-2 shooting) and Rasual Butler (7 pts, 3-4 shooting) standing out in exhibition style. As a whole, it was a rare showcase for the Pacers, who played focused for 48 minutes. There was no question they wanted to avoid heading into Wednesday night's game against the Dallas Mavericks on a two game skid, and they left no doubt in the outcome after the dreadful close to the Magic.
The Pacers win their 40th game of the season, moving to 40-11 and improve to 25-2 at home. They have one more game before the All-Star Break, a home contest against the Mavericks, which will tip at 7 pm ET. Dallas is currently riding a five game winning streak, but will be on the second night of a back-to-back after tomorrow's game at Charlotte, setting up a chance to head into the All-Star Break on a winning note against a quality Western Conference opponent.