Myles Turner celebrated his 20th birthday in style. The rookie forward recorded his third career double-double to lead the Pacers (38-33) to a 92-84 win over the injury-riddled New Orleans Pelicans (26-44) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
With his parents watching from the stands, Turner scored 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting, blocked three shots, and collected a career-high 16 rebounds in the victory.
"I was just attacking," the rookie said. "I wanted to be a lot more aggressive on the boards. Coach told me he wants me to get on the boards more, so (I'm) making an extra effort to go out and do that."
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Pelicans starting point guard Jrue Holiday was a late scratch before the game due to a left toe injury. Holiday's absence meant New Orleans — already ravaged by injuries to stars like Anthony Davis and Eric Gordon — took the floor without its six top scorers from the team's regular roster. The Pelicans had just eight available players against the Pacers, including backup guard Tim Frazier, who signed a 10-day contract on March 16 after the NBA granted the team an injury exception to add an extra player to the roster.
As one might have expected, the Pacers got off to a fast start offensively. Paul George played at an All-Star level in the first quarter, scoring 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting. Turner added eight points in the period, going 4-for-5 from the field and throwing down a vicious one-handed dunk that sent his dad into hysterics in the stands.
Still, the Pelicans' makeshift lineup hung tough in the first half. The Pelicans actually led as late as the 6:11 mark in the second quarter before the Blue & Gold put together a run.
Once again, Turner was the star over that stretch. The birthday boy scored eight consecutive points to help the Pacers create some separation. All in all, Indiana outscored New Orleans 17-6 over the final 6:10 of the half to take a double-digit lead into the locker room. Turner even put an exclamation point on his performance by blocking Frazier as the halftime buzzer sounded.
"That kid just plays as hard as he can every time he's out there," Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said. "Sometimes he makes mistakes, sometimes he gets it going.
"He's a big-time threat. He's improving and he's working hard on the defensive end. He did have a little bit of an extra bounce tonight."
The Pacers maintained a multiple-possession lead throughout the third quarter, but suffered a bit of a scare when George's leg collided with Alonzo Gee's on a defensive possession. The All-Star forward was diagnosed with a right lower leg contusion (the same leg he injured last season) and did not return.
"I just got kneed," George said after the game. "Nothing too serious, hopefully. It’s a day to day thing right now."
C.J. Miles stepped up in George's absence. The veteran swingman subbed in for PG with 7:31 left in the third quarter and promptly knocked down a pair of threes and a floater in the lane. He added five quick points in the fourth quarter when head coach Frank Vogel went small and Miles took advantage of a mismatch against Pelicans center Alexis Ajinca.
Miles — who had scored in double figures just once in the past month prior to Thursday — said after the win that he sought out some easy shots early in the game, knocking down a couple 12-foot jumpers, that helped him find an offensive rhythm.
"I got in the lane," Miles said. "I tried to hit little runners, get close shots. I need to start building my confidence back up, just as far as fluidity with my jump shots and getting open looks."
To their credit, the Pelicans continued to battle all evening. New Orleans eventually made it an 88-84 game with 1:03 to play when Toney Douglas — who spent training camp with the Pacers before being waived just before the start of the regular season — hit a layup, stole the ball on the other end, and then buried a 3-pointer.
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But Miles knocked down both of his free throws and the Pacers got a stop on the other end to seal the victory.
Miles finished the night as Indiana's second-leading scorer, collecting 19 points while going 7-for-14 from the field and 3-for-8 from 3-point range. George finished with 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting in just under 20 minutes of action.
Ajinca led New Orleans with 22 points and nine rebounds. Frazier chipped in 18 points, five rebounds, and five assists off the bench. Gee added 17 and Douglas finished with 13 in the loss.
Thursday's win concluded a five-game homestand for the Pacers, who went 3-2 over that stretch. Indiana will head to Brooklyn on Saturday before returning to Indianapolis for three more games at The Fieldhouse against the Rockets, Bulls, and Magic.
Inside the Numbers
Miles' 19 points were the most he's scored since he dropped 27 in a win in Brooklyn on Feb. 3.
George Hill had eight assists for Indiana, the fourth time this season (and second in the last three games) that he has dropped that many dimes.
Frazier's 18 points were a new career high, breaking the mark he set just four days ago when he scored 17 in a win over the Clippers. Ajinca's 22 points were 10 more than his season high and two shy of his career high.
The Pacers are now a perfect 15-0 when holding their opponent under 90 points. The Pelicans, meanwhile, are an absurd 0-32 on the year when failing to score 100 points.
You Can Quote Me On That
"Overall I think we could be better offensively. We got a much needed lift off the bench tonight from C.J. Miles." -Vogel
"We knew just the fact they were shorthanded, they were going to come out there and play really hard. We had to match their intensity. To be able to come out on our home floor in crunch time of the season, this is big for our momentum." -Turner
"A win is a win right now. We'll get the wins any way we can get them. We're in a playoff run trying to move up in the standings, so we’ve got to win any way we can." -Pacers guard Ty Lawson
"I thought we came out and competed, played hard. They made some big shots at the end. But we were in it until the end of the game and I thought we played hard the whole time." -Gee
"I would not take anything away from this group. We were shorthanded. I thought we did a great job. Lexie (Alexis Ajinca) stepped in and played great, I thought." -Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry
Stat of the Night
According to ESPN Stats & Info, Myles Turner is the first Pacers rookie to score 20 or more points and collect 15 or more rebounds in a game since Chuck Person. The Rifleman had 22 points and 18 rebounds in a win over the Knicks on March 27, 1987.
- The Pacers have now won 10 straight games against the Pelicans, sweeping the season series with New Orleans each of the past five years.
- Indiana is 21-11 all-time against New Orleans, including a 10-6 record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
- George made one 3-pointer on the night and has now made 188 treys on the year, third-most by a Pacers player in a single season. Reggie Miller holds the record with 229 threes during the 1996-97 campaign.
The Pacers head to Brooklyn to take on the Nets at 6:00 PM on Saturday, March 26. They return to The Fieldhouse a night later, when they'll host James Harden and the Houston Rockets at 6:00 PM. Find Tickets »
Home Court Gift Shop Game Night Special
Full Size Ball - $10. Game Night Specials can be purchased in the Home Court Gift Shop or any of our souvenir stands located on all levels of Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The special is also available online at PacersGear.com until midnight.