Paul George led the charge on both ends to push the Indiana Pacers to an impressive win over the Houston Rockets, extending their own win streak to three games. The Pacers pieced together one of their best all-around performances of the season, an effort that was led from the outset by George.
George took on the challenge of guarding James Harden all night, limiting the MVP candidate to 15 points on 3-17 shooting. Harden had eight assists, but also eight turnovers, eventually picking up his fifth foul late in the third quarter. The head-to-head between George and Harden has been one of George’s best matchups, holding Harden to 21.3 points per game on 34.5% shooting since Harden came to Houston.
Not only did George make the most of the game defensively, but led all scorers with 33 points, his fourth consecutive 30-point game. George was 13-23 from the floor with nine rebounds, and threw down his best poster dunk since the infamous Birdman dunk.
Gotta watch that PG dunk again from every angle. pic.twitter.com/qArhYxSIpD— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 30, 2017
It was unquestionably George’s best all-around effort of the season, but more importantly, his play on both ends lifted the energy of his team in pursuit of the win. Myles Turner put together an 18 point, 10 rebound double double with four blocks and three steals, but in every big play the Pacers made, Turner was the most hyped on the floor even when he wasn’t involved.
Jeff Teague was involved a lot, however, dishing out 15 assists to go along with 17 points, finding Glenn Robinson III for that lob. Robinson was a huge boost off the bench, scoring 14 points on 6-8 shooting with six rebounds. Indiana led by double figures much of the way, but the ability of the bench to not allow the Rockets to stage serious comebacks proved invaluable in securing the win.
Among the stars of the bench was Lavoy Allen, who scored a season high 10 points on 5-5 shooting. Al Jefferson had eight and while Monta Ellis was scoreless, he was big in distribution, picking up five assists. Even Rakeem Christmas got in on the fun in garbage time, scoring a career best five with a pair of boards and a block in three minutes of action.
Indiana held Houston to 41% shooting on the game, but limited them to just 30% in the first half. The Pacers also outscored Houston 20-11 in points off turnovers, forcing 15, over half of those coming from Harden. The Pacers edged the rebounding victory and outscored Houston 64-40 in the paint.
It may be hard to expect a lot moving forward from this win given Indiana’s play on the season, but this was the level of energy and defensive attentiveness that they’ll need moving forward as they work to find consistency on the season. The Pacers continue to be one of the league’s best home teams at 18-6, but will need to take their show on the road in a pair of road games starting Wednesday against Frank Vogel and the Orlando Magic.