Stephenson Returns to Help Pacers Kick off the West Coast Trip with a Win

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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.

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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

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