With the Pacers megawatt energy source Lance Stephenson sidelined due to injury, the Pacers not only needed to replace whatever production they might miss, but also the edge and energy Stephenson is known to deliver at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
No problem. In a game that was not for the meek, the Pacers two toughest dudes showed up to scrap against the Blazers' elite offense all night. David West scored a season-high 30 points but also implored his teammates to stay the course all night, continue battling and find a way to break through the lethal attack Portland threw at the Pacers. West could barely talk after the game, leaving his voice along with every ounce of effort on the court.
While West stiffened the spine of the Pacers, George Hill delivered everything else. The Pacers expected Damian Lillard to go off, and boy did he. How many tightly contested jumpers did he hit? The Pacers don't mind giving up long two's but he Blazers certainly didn't mind taking them.
Knowing Lillard wouldn't be shut down, Frank Vogel wanted George Hill to attack Lillard equally as hard at the other end. Hill showed up ready to attack and did that from the opening tip. Actually, even before the opening tip as his teammates noticed a different Hill before the game.
"When I first walked in here I was yelling at everybody that I had a lot of energy today," Hill said. "From 5 o'clock when we came here to start shooting, I don't know what it was, I just felt different today."
And just in case, West stayed on Hill to remain aggressive for the entire 48 minutes. The result made the head-shaking thought of trying to beat the Blazers without Stephenson and with subpar performances by Roy Hibbert and Paul George a reality. Different, indeed.
After the win, West explained that the Pacers are focusing on closing out the remaining games before the All-Star break with a high level of play. After getting past land mines against the Blazers and at Atlanta, the Pacers have won four in a row with games at Orlando and then home against Denver and Dallas remaining
- The Blazers had 104 field goal attempts which was a season high for a Pacers' opponent. Only 30 of those shots were around the rim with just 12 makes. Pacers outscored the Blazers 40-24 in the paint. Also shows the incredible shot-making ability of the Blazers from outside the paint.
-Rasual Butler chipped in 10 points in about 20 minutes of time and was just solid all around for the reserve unit. Impressive after not seeing extensive minutes in a big game.
- Speaking of extensive minutes, Danny Granger logged 40 minutes and didn't need an assistance to leave the Fieldhouse. He also did a good job of blanketing Wes Matthews early in the game and then keeping Nic Batum in check when the Pacers moved Paul George on Lillard. Danny Granger...dirty work player for 40 minutes.
- Pacers trailed 7-0 in second chance points at the half as the Blazers held a 7-0 offensive rebounding advantage. The Pacers improved in the second half, outscoring the Blazers 19-6 in second chance points, and winning the OReb battle 11-2.
- The Fieldhouse was ridiculous last night in such a fantastic way. 18,165 were definitely alive!
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