Friday, December 13, 2013 at 7:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 99, Bobcats 94
Scott Agness | December 13, 2013
From the tip Friday night, Pacers guard Lance Stephenson felt that his teammates weren’t as “hyped” as usual for the game at hand. So he took it upon himself to raise the energy level with the hopes of it spreading to the crowd and to his teammates.
They would need that lift, and a little more, to beat a much-improved Charlotte Bobcats team (10-13). As many Pacers (20-3) players made clear in the locker room afterwards, these aren’t the Bobcats of old. They are led by a respected coach and have talented players with fight that pester opponents the entire way.
Stephenson, one of six Pacers in double figures, scored team-high 20 points and was three assists shy of his third triple-double of the season as the Pacers held on for a 99-94 win in front of a sold-out crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers nailed four of the first five shots and took an early double-digit lead with all five starters contributing. Having gone without a 3-pointer in the first quarter of the last four games, the Pacers ended the drought and made 4-of-7 tries. The Bobcats scored five points in the final 24 seconds of the first, including a Kemba Walker 3-pointer as time expired, to draw within two points.
Charlotte’s offensive execution continued into the second quarter. In just over a two-minute span, the Bobcats went on a 12-2 run and took their first lead, which came on a three-point play from Indiana native Cody Zeller. He was playing his first game in Indy as a professional. Stephenson had a strong quarter, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds. Yet again, the Bobcats scored the final two buckets and the Pacers’ edge was just one.
In an effort to keep everybody sharp and explore the roster, Pacers coach Frank Vogel played veteran Rasual Butler a considerable amount of time at backup wing, rather than Orlando Johnson. Though he had three fouls, Butler had a season-high eight points in 16 first-half minutes.
The Bobcats were sizzling to open the second half. They nailed their first seven field goals and went ahead by six, their largest lead. They would make just two of their final 10, however in the corner. From there, the Pacers went on a 16-3 run, capped off by a deep shot form Stephenson. And still, the Bobcats were right there.
Down by one with five minutes to play, Stephenson provided the closing spark. He used a stop-and-go move to throw his defender, Ben Gordon off. He laid the ball in with the right hand and hit the free throw to complete the and-1. Then, after Bobcats center Al Jefferson missed a 9-foot jumper, David West knocked down two foul shots. The Pacers got it done in the end with their defense – the Bobcats missed their last six attempts – and came away with the five-point victory.
With the win, the Pacers remain undefeated at home (11-0) and are off to their best start in history. After 23 games, this season marks the fastest the Pacers have reached 20 wins in franchise history, topping the old mark in 2003-04 when they won 20 of their first 27 contests.
Inside the Numbers
Lance Stephenson posted his fifth double-double of the season and came up just short of his third triple-double: 20 points, 11 rebounds, and seven assists.
Roy Hibbert recorded his eighth double-double of the season, with 18 points and 11 boards. David West finished with 14 & 8, George Hill had 13 and Luis Scola was responsible for 11 points.
Al Jefferson scored a game-high 21 points on 9-of-18 shooting and grabbed nine rebounds. Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions each had 13 points and Gerald Henderson tallied 10.
Tonight was the fifth game this season where the Pacers blocked 10 or more shots.
The Pacers are flawless this season with a lead entering the fourth quarter — 17-0.
“That’s a good win against a really good team that we have great respect for. … We understood this was going to be a battle of a game, and it was.” – Frank Vogel
“They’re a tough basketball team to play against, man. They play teams tough. As it stands right now, they’re a playoff team. So we know internally that this wasn’t going to be an easy game. I think people just see the Bobcats and automatically think it’s going to be a blowout.” – David West
“[From the] tip ball, I could tell. I know when my team [isn't] ready and so I just tried to do something to get the crowd hyped and get everybody energized.” – Lance Stephenson the team’s energy level needing to be raised
“He felt like we needed to take them a little more serious so he just decided to take the game over himself. At one point in the game, he really did. He was rebounding like crazy, making good plays and hitting shots.” – Rasual Butler on Stephenson
“Lance did a great job being aggressor. He had some Lance moments out there, as well, but he was out catalyst and really pushed us over the edge so I’m happy for him.” – Roy Hibbert
“It was just great that we had guys step up. Rasual came in and played big minutes for us. He knocked down some big shots. It’s good to have teammates that can get your back when things aren’t going.” – Paul George
Stat of the Game
On a night where Pacers swingman Paul George, the league’s fifth-leading scorer, didn’t have it (10 points on 2-of-12 shooting), it was contributions from all around that helped the Pacers to another win. Six Indiana players were in double figures and seven scored eight or more.
- The Pacers have won five straight and 14 of the last 15 games against the Bobcats.
- The Pacers recorded their sixth sellout of the season (18, 165).
- In town for tomorrow’s Crossroads Classic, the Indiana basketball team was on hand to see Cody Zeller. Folks from the 500 Festival were celebrated as the founders of the Indy Mini-Marathon.