Indianapolis (TSN) – Paul George scorched the nets with seven 3-pointers en route to a game-high 31 points, as Indiana continued its impressive play at home with a 105-95 triumph over the Houston Rockets.
George got off to a good start, scoring 18 in the first quarter. He went on to finish with six rebounds, five steals and three assists as well in helping the Pacers to their 11th straight win at home.
David West also impressed, tallying with 20 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks. Roy Hibbert added 12 points, nine boards and four blocks while George Hill chipped in with 15 points in the victory.
Following a five-game winning streak, the Rockets have been grounded. In dropping their sixth straight game, they committed 18 turnovers and gave up over 100 points for the fifth consecutive contest.
Omer Asik notched a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds to go with three blocks. James Harden was held to 17 points on 5-of-19 shooting, but contributed seven assists, five rebounds and four blocks in the defeat.
The Rockets came out sluggish offensively — committing eight turnovers while shooting just 35.3 percent in the opening quarter — and George and the Pacers took advantage.
George netted 18 of the Pacers’ initial 31 points, draining 4-of-6 from beyond the arc to help Indiana to a 13-point advantage by the end of the first.
Ian Mahinmi pushed the Pacers’ edge to 16 with a three-point play to start the second, but Patrick Beverley and Carlos Delfino quickly responded with triples to highlight a 10-0 Rockets run and pull them within 34-28.
Later in the session, Hill extended Indiana’s lead back up to 11 with a 3- pointer and pair of free throws. Harden helped cut the Rockets’ deficit to 55-52 with a triple and a pull-up jumper, but George swished a three from the wing to send the Pacers into halftime with a seven-point lead.
As Indiana ripped off a 12-3 run to take a 73-61 edge in the third, the Rockets struggled to hang around. Harden’s four-point play brought them within eight, but the Pacers took control as George knocked down his sixth 3-pointer of the game to create an 80-65 margin.
Houston was able to come within 85-77 following Beverley’s triple early in the fourth, but Indiana responded with three quick answered scores to push its edge back to 14.
After another trey by George put the Rockets behind by 15 with 5:21 to play, Delfino helped reduce their deficit to 100-93. He hit on a pair of triples as part of 10 straight points, but Indiana never let them come any closer the rest of the way.
Game Notes: Harden was held under 20 points for the first time since Dec. 4. He had accomplished the feat in 22 straight games … Pacers forward Gerald Green sat the game out with food poisoning … George has recorded at least five steals in four games this season … The Pacers scored 100 points for the seventh time this season. They will begin a four-game road trip on Monday in Memphis against the Grizzlies.
“I’m really proud of our guys for playing a complete basketball game. It was a very, very strong defensive effort. Passing was our best friend tonight. Paul George, what can you say? I’ve never really seen a defender like Paul. He’s dominating. He was dominant tonight. All year he has taken the leading scorers and held them under their averages. They are a tough team to guard. They are impressive offensively. I’m happy where we’re at. A 50-win pace is good considering where we were the first two weeks when we struggled. We have to grow offensively.”
“We’re getting good quality wins. But we still have a lot of room to grow. I think defensively we’re holding up great. But this road trip coming up is going to challenge us. If our offense can continue to get better and improve I think that’s when our confidence will be where we want it. (On his defense on James Harden) He’s tough. He’s a handful. You are talking about one of the best guards in this league. But I just wanted to make him shoot over my length and really force him to have plays at the rim where Roy (Hibbert) and Ian (Mahinmi) are playing so well, going straight up.”
“It was a good effort. We did a good job of holding them. We know they’re first in the NBA in fast break opportunities. And we tried to eliminate that. It got away a little but you have to tip your hat to this team defensively. (On the confidence level playing at home) It was high. Anytime you play at home you get a sense of urgency, knowing you have to protect your home court. We feel we can complete with anybody at home.”
“I thought we had to lock in on their transition, their ability to score in the 100’s. We did a good job of keeping them in the 90’s. I thought guys just did a good job of locking in and limiting them some in transition. (On defending Harden) We know he’s one of the best guards in the league as far as creating his own shots and shots for others and getting to the free throw line. I thought we did a good job of contesting all of his shots.”