Indiana Pacers (21-5) 114
Houston Rockets (17-10) 81
This was the win that the Pacer needed after two straight losses. Two losses that were each tough to handle. This is what a great team does, it responds. Responding is exactly what the Pacers did in beating up the Houston Rockets in all aspects of the game. The Pacers are that rough and tumble team that showcased some of that last night.
How about the defensive effort shown last night? To the tune of 38% shooting, the Pacers only allowed the Rockets to score 81 points. A Rockets team that’s second in average points at 106 a game. Even slowing James Harden in his 3-14, where he had to get 5 points just from free throws.
How about the rebounding battle? Indiana Pacers 50. Houston Rockets 36. I’d say the Pacers won that battle handily. Four of the five starters for the Pacers had 5 or more rebounds. When it comes to that area, everyone is great at crashing the boards. I would even say that Lance Stephenson is one of the better rebounders on this team as he always seems to find his way around the basket for those loose balls.
How about the bench production, which has been greatly improved from last season? Look at some of the stats for those guys. Luis Scola shooting 5-7 for 12 and grabs 7 rebounds. Ian Mahinmi, not an offensive threat, but he goes 4-4 from the field and gets 10 points out there. C.J. Watson 3-3 from the field and 2-2 on three pointers finishing with 8 points on the night. You get those numbers from the bench consistently, and you can rest your starters an extra minute or so to make sure they’re ready to finish a game.
How about the return of #33 Danny Granger and the Pacers win the game by 33 points? Maybe he needs to make a big return more often. Granger didn’t shoot the ball well, but most people expected that as he’s just a slow starter anyways. But I still believe that Granger can make an impact out there, especially with the second unit and the way it’s put together. You can get a solid 15 or more minutes out of Granger, and give Paul George that extra breath time to make sure he’s ready to go for a final fourth quarter push. I think the past few games had seen George a little winded by the end of games with the way he’s pushed himself so much at the start. Having Granger to sub in those extra minutes could do wonders.
This is the game the Pacers just got back to their ways of doing things. It needs to continue to keep that padding on all the leads they’ve built division and conference wise. They’ve even got a great shot at capturing the league’s top record, which doesn’t win any championships, but could still go a long way towards showing this team is ready to roll for the postseason. And hey, we’re talking postseason plans already in December, that just shows how great this season is unfolding.