clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Pacers cruise past Hornets, make up ground for playoffs

Indiana gain a game on the Eastern Conference playoffs with a win tonight, defeating Charlotte handily 93-74

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Things looked pretty familiar early in the Indiana Pacers latest outing against the Charlotte Hornets, a slow start putting Indiana into an ever growing hole throughout the first quarter, with a heavy dose of Marvin Williams (10 points in the first quarter) and Mo Williams (six late points) leading Charlotte to a late first quarter lead at 25-16. But a series of stops to end the quarter to go with a pair of threes by C.J. Miles and C.J. Watson helped trim the lead to 25-22 heading into the second.

The Pacers would cut the lead throughout the first half of the second quarter, eventually pushing ahead for good on an 11-0 run that forced Charlotte scoreless for four minutes, allowing the Pacers to head into the break ahead 49-38. The Pacers maintained their lead throughout the third before ramping up their play in the final four minutes, outscoring Charlotte 11-0 to close the third.

Charlotte was just 2-21 from the floor in the third quarter, scoring nine total points, and giving them 22 points across the second and third. Indiana outscored the Hornets 48-22, as Charlotte saw a field goal drought reach nine and a half minutes before the maligned Lance Stephenson broke the drought. Stephenson's bucket, along with a pair of shots by Noah Vonleh, failed to spark much against Indiana, who built their lead up to 28 en route to a 93-74 victory.

Indiana didn't play great offensively, shooting 43.4%, but didn't need to with their heightened play on the defensive end, aided tremendously by a Charlotte team that shot just 35% over the course of the night, including their play across the middle two quarters. The Pacers gave up 24 points on 20 turnovers, but again, the play across the middle two quarters proved enough for Indiana, giving up just four points in that stretch.

Indiana outrebounded Charlotte by 13 and shot 50% from three point range, led by Damjan Rudez, who had three on the night, a perfect 3-3 in fact, to bring his three point shooting up to 54.4% since the beginning of March. Rodney Stuckey also put in a pair of threes as part of his game high(!) 15 points. Stuckey had a big stretch in the second quarter that helped push Indiana in the lead for good, playing his best game in a while, shooting 6-12.

The bench controlled things for Indiana, with C.J. Watson reaching double figures with 12 points on 5-8 shooting with four steals, getting help from Luis Scola, who neared a double double with nine points and 11 rebounds. Even Lavoy Allen got in the action, scoring six points and pulling in five rebounds, all in a span of about three minutes, scoring four points off of three offensive rebounds.

The Pacers got limited contributions from their starters, who scored just 33 points, but they still outscored Charlotte's starting unit, who had just 32. C.J. Miles led the starters with 12 points, but it was the contributions outside of scoring that really helped Indiana. George Hill has been carrying a big scoring load lately, but was just 2-11 for four points tonight, but dished 10 assists and had three steals. Solomon Hill also had three steals and David West had three assists to help Indiana's cause. Roy Hibbert was active early in the game, finishing with six points and seven rebounds in 16 minutes.

Indiana's win tonight showed some rare desperation from a team that's been lacking in any such kind of play of late. Though it's impossible to take anything of note from this win (remember how they played well against Dallas?), the win tonight did move Indiana to 20-18 on the season at home. Playoffs or no playoffs, the Pacers need just one more win to continue their home winning streak of what would be 26 consecutive years, dating back to the 1989-90 season.

The win also helped showcase the inept-as-ever Eastern Conference Playoff picture, with the Pacers not only winning to move ahead of Charlotte for 10th place, but the win, coupled with losses by Miami last night and Boston tonight, gets Indiana back to within 1 1/2 games of the 8th seed with the Miami Heat coming up in Indianapolis on Sunday night.

As with many games down the stretch, the Miami game will be key in keeping Indiana alive for the playoffs. Brooklyn's win tonight keeps them 2 1/2 games up in seventh place. With the tiebreaker and six games remaining for Indiana, they've all but played themselves out of the seventh spot, making things just that much harder for a playoff berth.

Even taking things one game at a time, the Pacers have to win their next three games against Miami, New York, and Detroit. A loss in any of the next three games could prove devastating for their postseason lives, though to be fair to "must wins" and "giving away opportunities," that's generally been the mood around every single one of these Eastern teams fighting for the last two playoff spots for weeks now.