On a rare Saturday matinee, the Indiana Pacers topped the Dallas Mavericks behind an impressive fourth quarter effort en route to their third straight victory. Indiana led most of the day, but it was their execution in the fourth that really helped push them to the win. Indiana overcame a struggle from three point range in the first quarter, hitting nine in the final three quarters, including three from George Hill in the fourth.
Hill finished with 16 in a game that featured a well-balanced attack from the Pacers. Seven players reached double figures and Solomon Hill, with a fantastic game of his own of eight points and seven rebounds, came close to becoming the eighth. The Pacers were led by Paul George, who had 18 of his 20 in the second half as part of a double double with 10 rebounds.
Despite George's struggles in the first half, the Pacers had little trouble scoring against the Mavericks defense, leading 55-51 at the break. Jordan Hill was a big part of that, scoring all 11 of his points in the first half. The big rotation for the Pacers had some potential foul issues, but leveled out in the second half to get double figures efforts from Ian Mahinmi (10) and Myles Turner (15).
Monta Ellis was fantastic in his return to Dallas, scoring 17 points on 7-13 shooting, putting up seven assists. The Pacers as a team moved well, assisting on 24 of their 38 baskets, but worked their way to the free throw line as well, posting another impressive night over 90%, shooting 27-29, a healthy 12 free throw advantage over Dallas's 15-18 game. Rodney Stuckey went 5-5 from the line to lead Indiana in that category as part of his 10, showcasing the balance Indiana had on offense.
Ellis was especially vocal throughout the game against his old team and afterwards, Solomon Hill showed the team's awareness in their current situation. The three game winning streak is Indiana's first since December as Hill pointed out. For a team looking to piece together a late season push to guarantee their spot in the playoffs, they don't seem distracted from that task at the moment.
The win moves Indiana to 35-30 on the season, but more importantly, capitalized on losses by each Chicago, Washington, and Detroit last night. This puts Indiana two games up on Detroit, who sit in 8th and 2 1/2 up on Chicago, who is currently in 9th. The Pacers will wrap up their back-to-back road trip against the Atlanta Hawks tomorrow night. Depending on what happens tonight for Atlanta, the Pacers may be in a position to overtake the Hawks for 6th in the East despite the tall order of Indiana winning in Atlanta on the second night of a back-to-back.