Lance Stephenson and Roy Hibbert both had double-doubles but the Indiana Pacers had to scrape together a 99-94 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday night despite a recent history of nearly unchecked success against them.
It was Indiana’s fifth straight win over Charlotte and 14th in their last 15 meetings. The Bobcats have dropped 10 straight in Indianapolis, but didn’t go down without a fight.
They trailed by two points when Hibbert’s long defense in the paint led to Al Jefferson’s miss off the backboard and George Hill’s free throws for a 98-94 lead with 15.1 seconds remaining.
Hibbert, who had 18 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks, was also a factor in Kemba Walker’s missed reverse layup try on Charlotte’s next possession. Paul George made another free throw and Josh McRoberts missed a 3-point try at the other end as the Pacers avoided a let down after Tuesday’s win over the Miami Heat.
“That’s a really good win against a really good team we have a lot of respect for,” said Pacers coach Frank Vogel, who said he expected a “battle of a game” against the Bobcats.
“And it was,” he said.
Stephenson had 20 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for the Pacers, who are 11-0 at home. David West added 14 points and Hill scored 13.
Jefferson scored 21 and Walker and Ramon Sessions netted 13 apiece for the Bobcats. who started a stretch of four games in six nights.
Despite hints he might play for the first time this season, Pacers forward Danny Granger was ruled out before the game.
Vogel said Granger’s “got a ways to go” to fully come back from a calf injury and indicated the team’s opponent could influence whether or not the Pacers want to risk playing him.
Granger played just five games last season because of a knee injury.
“It’s not just a guy that’s missed a month of basketball. He didn’t play at all last year, too,” said Vogel. “There’s going to be an adjustment period and we want to be smart about (when he comes back), so the schedule does impact that a little bit.”
The Pacers have lost just once to the Bobcats since 2009 and haven’t lost a game to them at home since Nov. 28, 2008.
Their 10-point lead in the first quarter was whittled to one at halftime and the Pacers even fell behind in the second quarter. They used a 9-2 run in the third quarter to take a seven-point lead, but Charlotte pulled within 79-76 going into the fourth and had a one-point lead with five minutes left after a Henderson jumper.
It remained close the rest of the way.
In a 99-74 loss at home on Nov. 27, the Bobcats trailed the Pacers 22-11 after shooting just 18 percent in the first quarter. They shot almost 48 percent in the first quarter Friday night and pulled themselves out of a 10-point hole to trail 27-25 going into the second.
The Bobcats had a three-point lead after an extended 12-2 run and went up by as many as six, but Rasual Butler’s corner 3-pointer capped a 9-2 Indiana run to give the Pacers the edge.
Indiana led 56-55 at halftime after both teams shot exactly 50 percent in the first 24 minutes.
Notes: Butler scored all eight of his points in the first half … The Pacers finish a three-game homestand Monday against Detroit before playing Miami on the road Wednesday … The Bobcats are home against the Lakers on Saturday.