In search of wins heading into the final 10 games of the regular season, the Indiana Pacers were faced with a difficult Western Conference task against the Dallas Mavericks. The Pacers opened up on a tear, hitting all six of their first quarter threes, four from C.J. Miles and two from Damjan Rudez to lift Indiana to a 33-27 first quarter lead.
The second quarter proved a tall task for the Pacers, who struggled to withstand a shooting explosion from Dallas, who hit 14 of their first 16 shots en route to a 34 point second quarter. Though the Pacers would head into the break down 61-55, they would manage to keep the game reasonable, never allowing the Mavs to push their lead into double figures.
The Pacers would struggle closing in on Dallas through much of the third, but kept pace long enough to break through late in the quarter, using an 8-0 run to move ahead 76-74, taking advantage of a four minute field goal drought from Dallas. The lead would prove short lived as Dallas outscored Indiana 5-2 to end the third, giving them a 79-78 lead heading into the final period.
In the fourth with the game tied 89-89, George Hill hit back-to-back threes to give Indiana a six point lead, but they would fail to capitalize to expand the lead beyond six, as Dallas would tie the game at 97-97, forcing Indiana to once again respond. Roy Hibbert hit a pair of free throws and Miles put in his fifth three of the night to push Indiana ahead by five with a minute remaining.
Chandler Parsons scored his 27th point seconds later and had the ball again after a Pacers miss. On the play, Miles picked up a crucial charge on Parsons to give Indiana the ball. They'd fail to capitalize on the opportunity, but with 8.6 seconds left, Solomon Hill came up with a big stop on Parsons as Indiana corralled the miss to wrap up a 104-99 victory.
The Pacers were led by C.J. Miles, who had 28 points on 9-12 shooting. Miles was on point early, hitting all four of his three point attempts, helping Indiana in the lead in the first quarter. He was relatively quiet after that, but came up big with his late three pointer and charge on Parsons. It was the 11th 20-point outing of the season for Miles, who leads the Pacers along with Rodney Stuckey.
Stuckey returned to action himself, and while he didn't appear to have enough of a lift to make the most of his shot attempts, he did come up with a big three of his own in the fourth quarter, leading the bench with 10 points, though on an inefficient 4-14, including a number of missed layups. The Pacers bench edged Dallas's bench 36-30 on the night, including an 11-2 advantage in the fourth.
George Hill continued his fourth quarter play with eight straight Pacers points, including the back-to-back threes as part of his 14 points. Roy Hibbert also reached double figures with 14 points and seven rebounds, shooting 5-10 from the floor. Along with Stuckey, David West returned to action after missing Friday's game against Milwaukee. West didn't look great, but played well, scoring 10 points with five assists and five boards. Solomon Hill led Indiana in assists with six, assisting on the first eight points from Miles in the game's opening minutes.
The Pacers shot 50% on the night, including a 10-17 night from beyond the arc, but more importantly, they were able to make defensive stands in tonight's game to help close out the win. While Dallas couldn't miss in the second quarter, scoring 34 points, they struggled finding buckets in the second half, scoring just 38 points total. Indiana's defense in the second half was aided by missed shots, but was also as sharp as it's been in recent games.
Indiana improved to 5-0 in their FloJo uniforms, extending that streak against a Dallas team that had entered tonight's game 33-0 when they lead after three quarters. The Pacers sweep the season series with Dallas, but more importantly, they got a win. They got a win that allowed them to keep pace with Brooklyn, who grabbed a win and moved into the eighth spot, and it allowed them to gain a game and tie with Boston.
Tiebreakers still put Indiana in 10th, but they sit just a 1/2 game out of the 8th spot, and will begin a make or break stretch in the next four games, where they play all four Eastern Conference teams they're fighting with nightly for playoff positioning, beginning with the 8th place Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday. The game will be key in deciding the tiebreaker between the two teams with the season series tied at 1-1.