Saturday, January 25, 2014 at 9:00 PM ET at the Pepsi Center
Game Rewind: Pacers 96, Nuggets 109
Scott Agness | January 25, 2014
Playing for the second time in as many nights, coming off an overtime win in Sacramento and arriving late this morning, the Pacers (34-9) knew they’d have to fight fatigue all game long. For the third straight game, they were in a double-digit hole at intermission. The Pacers cut their deficit to six twice in the final quarter but with both centers disqualified and looking gassed late, the comeback fell short Saturday night.
Denver (21-21), headed up by ex-Pacers associate head coach Brian Shaw, snapped a three-game losing streak in a 109-96 win over Indiana, the fifth straight time the Nuggets topped the Pacers at the Pepsi Center.
Heading into the game, a big concern was Indiana’s fatigue after playing the night before and then dealing with the thin air in the Mile High City. The Pacers dropped behind 12-4 as Nuggets guard Wilson Chandler, who finished with a season-high 25 points, contributed eight in the early going. Following a timeout, the Pacers slowed the game down to their pace and strung together consecutive stops. They used an 11-2 spurt to take their first lead, though the Nuggets were ahead by four at the end of the period.
Denver scored 16 straight points, dating back to the first quarter, to extend their lead to 15. Nuggets guard Nate Robinson had all 13 of his first-half points in the quarter, and helped initiate offense through the transition game. Though Lance Stephenson had three turnovers, he also created some offense for the Pacers, who shot just 37 percent in the first half. They gave up 26 points in the paint and trailed by 19, 55-36.
A re-focused Pacers squad put up their highest-scoring quarter of the season after the break. They had the stanza’s first 11 points and racked up 40 to narrow Denver’s cushion to 10. As Indiana’s centers were slowed down by foul trouble, David West, who had just two points in the first half, played the entire quarter and poured in 14 points.
With 4:48 to play, Paul George hit a technical foul shot to make it a six-point game, but they wouldn’t come any closer. West missed a shot at the rim, George’s 3-point shot didn’t drop and then the Pacers’ frustration boiled over. Frank Vogel and West then each received technical fouls, which gave the Nuggets free points at the line.
The Pacers’ couldn’t find their wind in the final minutes, and they didn’t have a stopper at the rim with both Roy Hibbert and Ian Mahinmi fouling out. The Pacers conclude this five-game road trip against the Lakers at the Staples Center Tuesday evening.
Inside the Numbers
Lance Stephenson chalked up his 12th double-double of the season, leading the Pacers with 23 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists. However, he also gave the ball away six times. With 18 points and 11 rebounds, Paul George registered his fifth double-double of the year. David West had 16 and George Hill added 10, his fourth straight games in double figures.
The Nuggets, who shot 48 percent in the game, brought a balanced attack with seven of the nine guys that played scoring at least 12 points each. Wilson Chandler’s 25 points topped his season-high by two points. Point guard Ty Lawson recorded a double-double (12 points, 10 assists) for the 11th time in 12 games.
Neither Roy Hibbert nor Ian Mahinmi played more than 20 minutes. The two combined for 10 points, eight rebounds and 12 personal fouls. It was Hibbert’s fourth time fouling out this season, and Mahinmi’s first.
Over the last three games, two of which were losses, the Pacers have yielded almost 115 points per game. That’s far from the norm for the Pacers, who lead the league in fewest points allowed per game (88).
For the second night in a row, the Pacers surrendered 21 points in transition. They also were narrowly outscored in the paint, 48-46.
The Pacers completed their 12th set of back-to-back games on the season with eight remaining. Six of their nine losses have come on the second night. The Nuggets improved to 5-0 at home this season when hosting teams on the back end of consecutive games.
“We had an emotional win last night in overtime, so I didn’t know how much gas we were going to have in our tank. We really competed at a high level. But, as is the case with most of our losses, we fouled too much with 27 fouls and we turned the ball over too much with 17 turnovers. Those two things have led to most of our losses. ” – Frank Vogel
“We can’t give teams leads like that. You have to understand that teams are giving us their best shot every night. It has happened in every game this trip. We have to do better in the first half.” – Frank Vogel
“They just killed us in the pick and roll. … They ran the same play the whole game and we couldn’t get them under control. We just fouled them. They would’ve beat us by 40 if they had made their free-throws. … We have to go back to the drawing board and try to reset our defense. Teams are attacking us right now in the middle pick and roll and we have to figure out a way to guard it.” – David West
“We’ve just been not competing at a high level in the first half. We dig ourselves a hole and sometimes we can get out of it, and tonight we couldn’t.” – Roy Hibbert
“Teams are not scared of us. They’re coming out aggressive and they’re playing harder. We’ve got to commit to the challenge and play harder than them.” – Lance Stephenson
Stat of the Game
The Pacers were whistled for 27 fouls, which allowed the Nuggets to attempt 37 free throws, the most of any opponent this season. The Nuggets missed 16 tries, and the Pacers were off the mark on 10-of-27.
- The Nuggets have won 15 of the last 18 meetings and five straight in the series.
- For the second game in a row, Indiana was whistled for three technical fouls. Tonight, it was Lance Stephenson, David West and coach Frank Vogel.
Tuesday, Jan. 28 at Los Angeles Lakers – 10:30 p.m. EST