The Indiana Pacers continued their win-loss trend with a convincing victory over the Charlotte Hornets at home. The Pacers did lead most of the night, but with Kemba Walker struggling early and Indiana not building upon the lead they did have, it wasn’t the most confident lead, especially not after the Hornets wiped it out by halftime with a 9-2 run.
Out of the half, however, Paul George scored six quick points to set the tone for the Pacers, who scored more in the third than they did in the entire second half against New York, outscoring Charlotte 33-16, featuring a 15-0 run. The strengths of the third were put to the test early in the fourth when the Hornets cut the lead to 10.
George and the starters returned, with George scoring the next nine for the Pacers to put the game out of reach. George finished with a season high 39 points, piecing together his best game of the season in the process. George has had big games this season, but there haven’t been too many instances where he’s played at this kind of elite level.
It was a vintage George game in that regard; not only was he lights out shooting the ball (15-21, 6-10 from three), but he made plays in other areas, with five rebounds, three assists, and three steals. After the game, George mentioned a change in attitude for the team after the New York loss (even shouting out his parents for old times’ sake).
George did the heavy lifting in the scoring department as Monta Ellis was the only other Pacer in double figures. Ellis scored 16 on 7-13 shooting, looking comfortable in a scoring role to help keep the Pacers bench from completely collapsing against the Charlotte second unit.
In general, the effort of the Pacers minimized the need for a bigger scoring punch, with Indiana outrebounding Charlotte by 12, limiting the Hornets to three offensive rebounds. The Pacers also hit 12 three pointers to three for the Hornets and had 26 assists on the night. Jeff Teague and Myles Turner had just eight and six points respectively, but Teague led the way with 11 assists, while Turner had 11 rebounds (and three blocks).
The Pacers ended up outscoring Charlotte 56-35 in the second half, somehow growing stronger on the second night of a back-to-back, putting them back into the win column. With the Pistons losing tonight to Utah, the Pacers hold a two-game lead in 6th place, but there’s still no room for error with Detroit, Miami, and Milwaukee all tied for 7th place.
There will be plenty of opportunity to scoreboard watch, however, as the Pacers will be off the next three days before they tip off against the Toronto Raptors in the 6. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since last year’s first round playoff series, and they’ll play three times over the last month of the season.