The Indiana Pacers get right back into the win column after a tough defensive effort last night that saw them ground the Rockets’ offense to 95 points, which is 10 points under their season average. Looking even deeper in this win, the Pacers have not lost two games in a row since December 7th and December 9th. Talk about bouncing back from losses. They had that rough game in Orlando, but came home, got some sleep, played well, and now gear up for a tough road trip against four playoff contenders. Another stretch of games that could help steer this Pacers team towards that division title.
The Houston Rockets meanwhile are sliding the other way. They’ve now lost 6 straight games. James Harden has his streak of 20 point games snapped thanks to some stellar defense by Paul George. The Rockets are now in 9th place in the West just slipping out of playoff contention. They’ll need to recover fast from last night’s game as they play tonight at Minnesota and finish up their current road trip with a game at Charlotte.
Last night’s game was all about how the Pacers would contend with the scoring punch of James Harden and the Rockets’ offense that averages 105 points a game. Well the Pacers held both parts down, so I would mark that mission accomplished. Paul George was the catalyst in all areas as he put up 18 points in that first quarter, while the Rockets as a team put up 18 points.
But the Pacers couldn’t hold Houston down in that second quarter, and they gave up 34 points to let Houston sneak back into the game. The lead was double digits for portions of the game and got as close as two. But once again, the Pacers picked it up on defense and held the Rockets to 17 points in that third quarter, where it really helped hold the lead.
David West was his usual self with 20 points and 11 rebounds. The Pacers as a team out rebounded the Rockets 41-36. Roy Hibbert gets his own 12 points and 9 rebounds, a good effort from him as he looked more active than usual in this game. George Hill adds in another 15 points for the starters.
It was a good team effort to get this win, the 11th straight win at home for the Pacers. Now they’ll travel for four games on the road, where they haven’t been as good. It would be ideal to keep this momentum going and win four straight, but even going 2-2 would probably keep the Pacers right at the top of the division, where is where they want to be.