Game Rewind: Pacers vs. Portland

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Granger leads Pacers past Trail Blazers

By John Oehser
NBA.com

THE FACTS: Danny Granger finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds and the Indiana Pacers won a third consecutive game, beating the visiting Portland Trail Blazers 100-87 on Friday.

Granger shot 7-for-13 for the Pacers, who not only shot 21 more free throws than Portland, but also outrebounded the Blazers 58-39.

Pacers center Roy Hibbert had 15 points and six rebounds, and forward Tyler Hansbrough added 13 points and eight rebounds. Rudy Fernandez had 19 points off the bench to lead Portland, which never led in the second half after Indiana led by six points at halftime.

The Pacers are 3-0 under interim coach Frank Vogel, who took over after Jim O'Brien was fired this past Sunday.

Jeff Foster had a game-high 13 rebounds for Indiana, which shot (43) and made (33) more free throws than in any game this season.

QUOTABLE: "We're changing the identity of our basketball team -- dramatically. We're a power post team -- a blood-and-guts, old-school, smash-mouth team that plays with size, strength, speed and athleticism. We attack the basket. . . . This is the new identity of our team. It was a great effort. I'm very proud of our guys."
-- Frank Vogel.

THE STAT: Hibbert played his third consecutive solid game under Vogel. A third-year center, his improvement was key during the Pacers' solid early start in November and December, but he had struggled in recent weeks. He has averaged 17.3 points and points and 8.6 rebounds in three games under Vogel.

TURNING POINT: The Pacers played solidly early to build a six-point halftime lead, but it was in the third quarter that Indiana actually took control. The Pacers led by three points three minutes into the third quarter and never let the lead dip below six before scoring the final six points of the period to push the advantage to 14, 86-72. Granger shot 4-for-8 for 11 points in the period.

QUOTABLE II: "Three in a row feels good, but we can't look back on that. We have work to be done in the future. We all must stay focused and see where this is going to take us."
-- Roy Hibbert.

HOT: For perhaps the first time this season, the Pacers are hot -- at least, hotter than they have been this season. The Pacers have won three consecutive games since Vogel moved into the interim coaching role, and while the first two games of that streak came against the two teams with the worst records in the East -- Cleveland and Toronto -- on Friday, they controlled much of the game against a team over .500. It's the Pacers' first three-game winning streak this season,

NOT: Portland scored just 33 points in the second half and shot just 36.4 percent from the field, incouding 5-for-20 (25 percent) from 3-point range.

FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Hansbrough didn't have his best shooting game, starting 1-for-5 from the floor and finishing 1-for-8. But what the Pacers' second-year forward continued to do was bring an energy and production to the power forward position. Vogel said Hansbrough and Josh McRoberts should "own" the position moving forward, and Hansbrough continued to develop in the role Friday, finishing with 13 and eight rebounds. Hansbrough was 11-for-12 from the free-throw line.

GOOD MOVE: With just under 10 minutes remaining, Hansbrough drove from the left side, taking the ball direct LaMarcus Aldridge. The drive drew a foul, but it wasn't the two ensuing free throws that hurt the Trail Blazers nearly as much as Aldridge -- who has played near an All-Star level this season -- committing his sixth foul and leaving the game with 9:53 remaining.

QUOTABLE III: "The game was on the edge. We were on the verge of getting blown away. If they take me out of the game at that time, the game's pretty much over. We were trying to make a run.''
-- LaMarcus Aldridge.

ROOKIE WATCH: Rookie Paul George continues to be an increasingly important part of the Pacers' rotation, and while he seems to be developing confidence, he struggled offensively Friday by shooting 1-for-6 from the field. He missed all three of his 3-point field-goal attempts, but Vogel said he played well in other facets, finishing with four rebounds.

NOTABLE: Pacers guard Brandon Rush missed the game with a sprained right ankle, while Granger played through a sinus infection. . . . . The victory for Indiana snapped a five-game losing streak against Portland. . . . While Vogel is emphasizing rebound and an "old-school" approach, the Pacers aren't suffering offensively. They have scored 100 or more points in three consecutive games for the first time this season.