Pacers 95, 76ers 85

Paul George let his teammates do the dirty work inside Friday

night. All he had to do was clean up.

Did he ever.

The third-year guard scored 14 of his 28 points in a

game-changing third quarter and teamed up with Roy Hibbert, David

West and George Hill to deliver a stinging combination for the

Indiana Pacers in a 95-85 victory over the short-handed

Philadelphia 76ers.

”I really want the ball. I really feel right now that I can

make plays and create for others,” George said after topping the

20-point mark for the fifth time in six games. ”And when we need

the shot to go down, I can make them.”

George proved it time and again Friday night.

But he had the easy part – taking advantage of the openings

created by his bigger teammates in the middle. He finished 9 of 17

from the field, 5 of 7 on 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds, blocked

three shots and seemingly made every big basket including the

eventual knockout 3-pointer with 2:01 left in the game.

And he had plenty of help.

West started the game-changing third-quarter scoring flurry and

scored six of his 14 points during an 18-6 run that sent Indiana

from a 46-42 deficit into a 60-52 lead.

Hibbert, who has struggled offensively most of this season,

produced his best all-around game. He finished with 19 points, one

short of his season high, tied his season best with three assists

and grabbed 13 rebounds – still a season best despite having one

taken away during a postgame scoring change that gave Hill a


Hill finished with 15 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds

following a late scoring change from early in the game – the first

triple-double of his career – at the expense of Hibbert.

The All-Star center didn’t care about the stat sheet, only that

Indiana (12-11) was back over the .500 mark and 9-5 in its last 14


”I want to be aggressive. I was taking shots and they were

dropping tonight, so I’m happy for that,” Hibbert said. ”But I’m

happier with the win.”

Philadelphia faced a big challenge Friday.

Not only did it have to contend with Indiana’s resurgent

offense, it also had to deal with the NBA’s second-best scoring

defense without two of its top players.

With Andrew Bynum still out because of bilateral knee bone

bruises, coach Doug Collins opted to keep top scorer Jrue Holiday

on the bench with a sprained left foot, rather than risk further


Collins adapted by putting Evan Turner at point guard and

inserting Nick Young into the starting lineup for the first time

this season, moves that produced mixed results.

Turner responded with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists,

while Young had eight points on 4-of-14 shooting. Spencer Hawes (18

points) and Thaddeus Young (12) were the only other players to

reach double figures.

The bigger problem for Philadelphia came on the inside, where

Indiana had a 40-26 scoring advantage in the paint.

”We knew second-chance points were going to be a problem. They

are a big, strong team,” Collins said. ”I thought our guys

fought. I thought we did some good things.”

Just not enough of them.

Philadelphia took advantage of two errant inbounds passes from

West late in the first half, scoring six points in the final 3.8

seconds to take a 44-42 halftime lead.

It didn’t last long.

After Turner started the second half with a 19-footer, West and

Hibbert accounted for six points in an 8-0 Indiana run that gave

the Pacers a 50-46 lead.

George then scored all of Indiana’s points in an 8-2 spurt and

when West knocked down a 17-footer with 5:03 left in the third,

Indiana led 60-52.

Philadelphia spent the rest of the night playing catch-up but

never got all the way back.

The 76ers got as close as 86-83 when Hawes made an 18-footer

with 2:59 to play. George answered with his final 3 of the night

and Philadelphia didn’t score another basket as the Pacers sealed

it with a 9-2 run.

”For a team struggling offensively, to have a guy that stepped

up the way he (George) stepped up is big. He’s making shots right

now. It’s just confidence,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. ”Roy

works harder than anybody and he’s staying with it and we’re

staying with him. We wanted them to take tough shots tonight and

they made them.”

NOTES: Hibbert had only one block, ending a streak of 16

straight games with at least two. … Philadelphia is 2-5 in its

last seven games and has scored 90 or fewer points in all five of

those losses. … Indiana shot a season-best 57.1 percent from

3-point range. … Washington Nationals closer Drew Storen attended

the game. … The Pacers observed a moment of silence in tribute to

the victims of the Connecticut shooting tragedy just before playing

the national anthem.