Despite the heavy number of injuries to the New Orleans Pelicans, the Indiana Pacers still needed late free throws to seal the win against them, but Indiana doesn't need style points, they simply need wins. The Pacers were never able to seize complete control of the game, in part due to Alexis Ajinca, who had his best game of the season for New Orleans with 22 points, but also with a third quarter injury to Paul George.
George had a solid night working with 15 points on 6-9 shooting, pushing Indiana into a double figure lead in the early stages of the third when his right knee collided with Alonzo Gee, sending him to the locker room with a right leg contusion. After the game, Frank Vogel gave some positives on George, however, saying George was moving around well and would be day-to-day.
In regards to the game, New Orleans made a push late in the third, closing the gap to six with under 30 seconds remaining. As a response, C.J. Miles would hit a big three to close the quarter as part of his eight straight Pacers points to push the lead back to 12. Miles came up big for Indiana to give them some much needed reliable scoring, putting in 15 of his 19 in the second half, including three three pointers.
The star of the game was rookie Myles Turner, who showed out for his 20th birthday with a monster 24 point, 16 rebound effort. Turner and his father had apparently discussed him compiling a 20/20 game on his birthday, and Turner seemed to suggest he had that extra bit of motivation as his dad watched. Turner had his third double-double on the night with his 16 boards and looked in January form with his shooting touch, going 11-17 from the floor.
Indiana shot a reasonable 45.6% on the night, but the trio of Miles, George, and Turner made up for a bulk of that good percentage. Monta Ellis had nine points, but was just 3-12 from the floor, though did come up with three steals. George Hill had a pair of threes for his six points and Rodney Stuckey led the free throw trips for Indiana, going 4-4 and finishing with eight.
The day-to-day status of George can hopefully give him availability for Saturday's game against the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets upset the Cavaliers at home despite a Herculean effort from LeBron James, showing that despite being lottery bound, the Pacers will need to pack a better overall effort than they've shown in each of the last two games to keep the wins rolling in.
Indiana did get another gift from their long-time rivals in New York, with the Knicks completing a back-to-back sweep of the Chicago Bulls. Indiana opens up a two game lead over 9th place Chicago, which can go a long way in helping Indiana secure a return to the playoffs. Indiana will get help one way or another tomorrow as well when the Hornets face the Pistons, which will either bring Indiana to within 2 1/2 games of 6th or a full game over 8th.