Just minutes into the second half of Saturday night's game against the Brooklyn Nets, point guard George Hill -- making his first start of the season -- saw an opening in the defense and took flight, slamming home an emphatic dunk with his right hand.
The basket seemed to signify that not only was Hill fully recovered from the knee contusion he suffered in the preseason, but that he saw the offensive void missing from the Blue-and-Gold during his absence, and is now ready to make his mark.
Behind Hill's 12 points, six rebounds, and five assists, the Pacers grabbed a 110-85 road win on their second night of a back-to-back, making them winners in three of their last four contests. And 2-1 since Hill's return from injury.
"We played four pretty solid quarters," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. "I'm really pleased with how we're moving the basketball."
In the second quarter, with the lead changing more frequently than style trends in Brooklyn, the Pacers' second unit lit up the Nets with a 14-2 run fueled by rebounding machine Lavoy Allen, who grabbed six boards in his first shift on the floor.
After the half, Nets guard Sergey Karasev made a driving layup which cut Indiana's lead to just one point. It was then that Indiana ripped off an 11-2 run in which the Nets scored just one field goal in five minutes of play; essentially ending Brooklyn's night.
Defensively, Indiana clamped down on the Nets; particularly in the second half, when the Pacers held Brooklyn to just 38 points. For the game, the Blue-and-Gold's hounding defense caused the Nets to shoot just 34.6 percent from the field. Brook Lopez and Deron Williams -- normally cornerstones of the Nets' offense -- were held to a combined seven points on 2-of-12 shooting.
"We missed a lot of shots tonight; they made a lot," Williams said. "They definitely shot the ball well, especially in the second half."
Aside from Hill's stellar play, the Pacers were aided by the rollicking pace of Rodney Stuckey, whose 24 points, six rebounds, and eight assists flirted with a triple-double. There was also Chris Copeland, providing energy off the bench, with 12 points, four rebounds and three dimes. The Blue-and-Gold had seven players reach double-figures in the points column.
It was a bit of a statement game for the Blue-and-Gold, who were clearly bothered by the previous night's defensive performance in which they allowed Detroit to reach its season-high in scoring with 119. But tonight it was the Pacers setting the nets ablaze (no pun intended), as they cruised to a comfortable 25-point victory, their largest of the season.
"We had a sour taste in our mouth from how we played last night," Vogel said. "We recognized we're not as bad as it looked when we watched the tape. We stayed true to what we're building here."
Inside the Numbers
Rodney Stuckey's eight assists were the highest number of dishes any member of the Pacers has had this season.
The Blue-and-Gold's 25-point margin of victory was its highest of the year, surpassing its 19-point win over the Lakers on December 15th.
The Pacers' 33 assists was the highest total they've racked up all season.
The Blue-and-Gold shot 51.2 percent from the field, a new season-high for Indiana.
You Can Quote Me On That
"We got some stops, got some turnovers, got on the (fast) break, made some easy baskets that way. Got a lead and never looked back." -Rodney Stuckey
"I thought we came out with good energy. I thought we moved the ball well. We just made them guard. And I thought defensively we were active." -David West
"There is no excuse. They beat us, they earned the right to win that. They came out and got after us, attacked us and made shots."-Nets coach Lionel Hollins
- Indiana crushed the Nets in the paint, outscoring Brooklyn 48-28 on the interior
- The Pacers tied their season high for 3-point percentage at 50.
- Seven Pacers reached double-figures in scoring
- Chris Copeland's +/- for his 34 minutes played was a team-high +35
Stat of the Game
The Pacers shot above 50 percent from the field for the fourth consecutive game after not having done so once the entire season. The last time the Pacers went four consecutive games shooting 50 percent or better was in April of 2009. Prior to that, it was in 1997 (Per Basketball-Reference.com).
The Pacers return to Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday, Dec. 29 to host Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. Limited seats remain. Plus, pay zero fees for any tickets purchased online through December 31, courtesy of FOX Sports Indiana. Find Tickets »