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
”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.