The Pacers were staring down two consecutive losses tonight after falling behind by 14 against the New Orleans Pelicans at home in the first half. They got clawed back within 5 by half time and got yelled at by coach Frank Vogel. Then they went back out and killed the Pelicans in the second half, holding them to 33 second half points en route to a comprehensive 99-82 victory.
Paul George shot poorly (8-24) but finished with a team high 24 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals with just one turnover. Lance Stephenson was a ball of energy in the second half and had 19 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists while George Hill added 10. The Pacers big front line of Hibbert and West didn't do a lot of scoring (6 and 8, respectively) but Hibbert had 5 blocks and West had 2.
The most interesting part was seeing how well the second unit, and in particular Danny Granger, played. Granger scored 13 points on 4-7 shooting, his third consecutive double-digit game, and most impressive was how he scored those points. He had a couple of threes, including a four-point play, he hut an open baseline jumper off a scramble, and he cut into the lane for a tough reverse layup. Flashes of the old Danny. He won't ever be that 25-point a game All-Star again, but if he can provide double digits off the bench every night the Pacers are going to be hard to beat, especially with Luis Scola looking really confident out there offensively, CJ Watson remaining solid with the ball and Ian Mahinmi finally living up to his promise on the defensive end.
A bunch of upsets over the last couple of days has shot the 26-6 Pacers back up to the top of the league, even with that disappointing loss against the Raptors. They are now 1.5 games ahead of the Heat in the East and need to keep up the effort in their next game against the Kyrie Irving-less Cavs tomorrow night on the road. And then they better be ready on Tuesday for the grudge match against the Raptors at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.