George Hill and Lance Stephenson returned to the starting lineup after sitting out Monday against Atlanta. Stephenson scored a season-high 21 points, just two shy of a career-high.
Knowing the importance of this trip out West, the Pacers got off to a furious start in Houston. First, they scored 10 of the game’s first 12 points. Then, they went on a 16-5 run – mostly due to their defense and scrappy play – to go ahead by 17. The Pacers dominated the inside play, scoring 22 points in the paint, led by Hibbert’s 15 and Hansbrough’s 10 first quarter points.
As the buzzer sounded, Hibbert squatted down and appeared to catch his breath. He was wiped, but his strong performance helped the Pacers defeat the Rockets by nine, giving them a sweep of the season series.
This win, with George Hill and Stephenson back in the lineup, sets the tone for the four-game swing. However, unlike last time in late January, they can’t – and shouldn’t – lose the final three. The Pacers may get a boost to their lineup tomorrow night in Dallas as David West and Danny Granger are likely to return.
The Pacers held the highest-scoring team in the NBA to 91 points (and 38.6 percent shooting), 15 points under their average.
“No. 1 defensive team against the No. 1 offensive team and we got the better of them tonight. Our defense was sensational led by Paul George’s matchup on James Harden. I thought he really did a strong job and our team did a strong job on him.” – Frank Vogel