Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:00 PM ET at Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Game Rewind: Pacers 114, Rockets 81
Scott Agness | December 20, 2013
As Pacers fans and a nationally televised audience looked on, the Pacers (21-5) turned in their best performance of the season against an elite level Western Conference team, routing the Houston Rockets (17-10), 114-81.
Back in the friendly confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse, the Pacers looked to put an end to their first losing streak of the season, albeit just two games. They also wanted to reassert their dominance at home, where they had won their first eleven games before falling to Detroit on Monday night.
Pacers coach Frank Vogel said they played mad, a focused mad, for all four quarters and they came away with their largest victory of the season. In a game highlighted by fans welcoming back forward Danny Granger, the Pacers shot 60 percent and were plus-22 in the final two quarters.
The Rockets, who are in the midst of playing four games in six days, scored nine of the game’s first 13 points and went ahead by five. Keying off their defense and making it count in transition, the Pacers then went on a 12-2 run. During that stretch, Granger made his long-awaited return, checking in with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter.
It was his first regular-season appearance in 292 days, dealing with a knee injury at the end of last season and a strained left calf to start this year. As he checked in, the sellout crowd – Indiana’s seventh of the season – rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation, the first of several on the evening. In his first minute, he made the unlikely move of swatting Dwight Howard’s shot from behind. The Pacers shot 48 percent in the opening frame, kept the Rockets off the foul line and led by five.
Granger’s first points were scored minutes into the second period at the foul line after he dribbled the length of the court and rimmed out a layup as he was fouled. Yet again, Luis Scola gave the Pacers a boost. The savvy veteran scored nine of 13 points in the second, including his first triple of the year. Houston scored 10 unanswered, getting to within two at 41-39, but that would be the closest they’d get the rest of the game.
Indiana ratcheted things up in the third, and widened the gap with their defense. They forced five turnovers, and Paul George, the league’s top scorer in that period, had 12 points. The Pacers outscored the Rockets 40-16 after the Rockets had climbed within two, capped off with a thunderous slam from George midway through the third. He not only scored a game-high 24 points, but held James Harden to 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
As well as they played on the defense, the Pacers were just as dominant on the offensive end. They had great spacing, whipped the ball around, were assertive and had little trouble when the Rockets temporarily switched to a zone. Indiana assisted on a season-high 29 field goals on way to its largest point total of the year.
The Pacers continued to add to their lead in the final period, scoring 12 of the quarter’s first 14 points to go ahead by 32. Indiana putting Houston away early allowed for all 13 active players to play at least three minutes. As Granger exited the game with 2:28 remaining, fans let him hear it once again, and this time he acknowledged it with a heartfelt wave.
With six players in double figures and everybody contributing, the Pacers bounced back with their most complete, unselfish game of the season.
Inside the Numbers
Paul George made 7-of-16 shots and led the Pacers in points (24) and rebounds (nine). Lance Stephenson finished with 16 points and six assists, Luis Scola scored 13 and both George Hill and David West had 12.
Danny Granger’s line: five points on 1-of-7 shooting, two rebounds, two assists, one block and five turnovers in 22 minutes.
With 19 points and 12 rebounds, Dwight Howard recorded his 17th double-double of the season. Chandler Parsons was 6-for-8 with 14 points and Harden was limited to just 12.
The Pacers made a season-best 12 3-pointers while limiting the Rockets, who make and attempt the most outside shots in the NBA, to 4-of-22 beyond the arc — a 24-point difference.
Houston loves to play fast and get out and run at what Pacers assistant Dan Burke dubbed "a windshield-wiper pace." The Pacers not only held the Rockets to eight points in transition, but scored 18 themselves.
Indiana’s second unit posted a season-high 41 points and outscored Houston’s bench by 23.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the effort and the execution, particularly on the defensive end. … We really got after it on the defensive end and limited them, and then we were sharing the ball offensively. When we share it like that and create open looks, [with] the way we can shoot the ball we had that explosion there in the third quarter.” – Frank Vogel
“Exactly what I thought I’d see. I think he’s going to have an adjustment period and it’s going to be a process where his shot making comes and his ability to finish plays. What I liked about it is the first way he impacted the game on the defensive end.” – Frank Vogel on Granger
“I didn’t expect it but it was touching. I’ve been here for a long time and obviously what I’ve been going through the last few years has been hard and it’s always good to have the support of Indiana. I love Indiana with all my heart.” – Danny Granger on the reception
“I thought tonight was the best game that we’ve played, as far as playing a full 48 minutes.” – Paul George
“Just got into a rhythm. My teammates found me and I was just having fun.” – Paul George on his third quarter
“Once we get into that mode when we are all holding each other accountable and moving the ball and sharing it, we’re a tough team to beat. When we don’t, we play into the defenses hand. Tonight just showed, as long as we moved that ball and hold each other accountable on the defensive end, we’re going to be one great team.” – George Hill
“They are a well-seasoned team. You can tell they’ve been together for a couple of years. … They kicked our a--.” – Dwight Howard on the Pacers
Stat of the Game
The Pacers scored a season-high 114 points while holding the Rockets, who average 107 points per game, to a season-low 81.
- The Pacers have won the last four regular season meetings with the Rockets.
- The Pacers wore their gold uniforms.