The Pacers are slowly getting back to their winning ways, or so it seems. Indiana picked up another pair of wins accompanied by one loss this week. They spent the week in California as they took on three Pacific division teams: the Los Angeles Lakers, Sacramento Kings, and the Golden State Warriors. The two victories were narrow, but at this point the Pacers are happy with a W in any form or fashion. They finish the week with an overall record of 8-9 and only one game behind Milwaukee and Chicago in the Central division. Indy still has a poor road record with four wins and seven losses away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse, but picking up tough wins on the road like they did this week is how they’ll be able to get that back around .500.
Pacers 79 – Lakers 77
The first game of this road trip was against the new-look Los Angeles Lakers, sans Steve Nash. This Tuesday night game looked like one of LAL’s 2006 games where Kobe Bryant was the only player on their team capable of putting the ball in the basket, adding another 40 point game to his resume. The Pacers were happy to allow Bryant to put up shots and put the cuffs on the rest of the team. Neither team managed to crack the 80 point mark, but for a low scoring game it was very entertaining. The Pacers had control of the game for most of the first half, taking a seven point advantage into the intermission, but the Lakers out-rebounded the Pacers and attempted 16 more free throws which allowed them to make up that ground. The Pacers had four players in double figures but George Hill was the standout coming through with a tough floater, and an even tougher layup over Dwight Howard with the game tied and clock running out.
Pacers 97 – Kings 92
Yet another close and captivating game for the Pacers’ fans as the team took to the court Friday night to face the Sacramento Kings. This one belonged to David West, who is getting comfortable with bearing the offensive load when his shots are available. He came through with 31 points and 11 boards, leading the team in both categories. George Hill followed up his previous game winning performance with 25 and eight dimes. The offense certainly didn’t shine in this one, but the Pacers limited their turnovers to nine and still put up a decent number. Much like their game against the Lakers, the Pacers put their opponents on the free throw line too many times. The Kings picked up 22 points from the stripe and pushed the Pacers to the brink without their playmaker Tyreke Evans. With only four wins the Kings have the worst record in the Western Conference, so it’s not a big surprise that Indy was able to pull out a win. With that being said, a win on the road against a team in the west is not to be overlooked for a Pacers team that has struggled early this season.
Pacers 92 – Warriors 103
The lone loss this week came at the hands of the Golden State Warriors on Saturday. The Pacers played at the Warriors pace and weren’t able to keep up. The Warriors pulled away from the Pacers in the third quarter and stayed solid for the victory, as their guards scored in bunches. Stephen Curry ran Coach Mark Jackson’s offense to perfection at times, dishing out 11 assists in the process. George Hill and David West did their part once again and Roy Hibbert didn’t play poorly (which shouldn’t be noteworthy, but it is), but it just wasn’t enough on this particular night. Out of the three teams that the Pacers played this week the Warriors own the best record. The Warriors are actually tied for the Pacific Division lead with the Los Angeles Clippers at 10-6, so there’s no shame in losing this one.
The bench players were incredibly inconsistent this week. There’s no way to anticipate how many points you will get from any particular player on any particular night. D.J. Augustin doesn’t seem comfortable with his teammates yet, and really isn’t getting that much playing time. Tyler Hansbrough is becoming an afterthought, so it would certainly be nice to see him have a breakout game soon. The Pacers have given up 100 points in three of their last five games after allowing triple digits once in their first 12 games. They’re clearly still trying to figure out the speed at which they want to play on a consistent basis. West and Hill are really stepping up for the Pacers, but they will need help from Paul George and Roy Hibbert if they want to pull out games against winning teams. Paul George averaged a little more than 5 points per game this week, after having a 37 point game last week. Hibbert hit the double figure mark in scoring only one time this week, and didn’t get 10 rebounds in any of the three games. Foul trouble is his biggest problem now because he simply cannot stay on the court long enough to make a significant difference, even though his percentages have increased. If these guys don’t find their games immediately then expect it to be a poor upcoming week for the Pacers as they prepare to face Chicago, Portland, Denver, and Oklahoma City.