The league's best defense stifled one of its hottest offenses Friday night as the Indiana Pacers defeated the Houston Rockets, 114-81, at home. Paul George led the way with 24 points, nine rebounds and four assists and Lance Stephenson chipped in 16 points, six boards and six assists.
The Rockets thrive off three-pointers, buckets at the rim and free throws, but failed to capitalize on those spots against a staunch Pacers defense. Houston shot just 52 percent in the paint and 18 percent (4-of-22) from long range. That Houston hit just 13 of 24 attempts from the stripe speaks to its poor shooting night.
Most of that -- aside from the poor free-throw line shooting -- can be attributed to Indiana's defensive effort. The Pacers bring it on that end of the floor on a nightly basis and Friday was no different. They attacked Houston shooters on close outs and rotated on the backside, forcing the Rocket players into tough shots at the rim. On offense, Indiana looked stylistically like the Rockets, running out for 18 transition points.
Indiana skated to the open floor in the first quarter, scoring seven points on the break. Danny Granger, who has played just five games in two years, received a loud ovation from the Pacers crowd in his first game on the year.
Indiana went to the locker room up 10 points, 55-45. The Pacers' lead ballooned to 26 points in the third quarter, highlighted by a breakaway George reverse dunk. Howard valiantly fought off Hibbert, scoring six points in the quarter, but Indiana was too much, doubling an 11-point halftime lead to 22 heading into the fourth quarter.
That lead added up to as much as 36 in the fourth quarter as the Pacers ran away from Houston at the end. The Rockets have lost three of their last five.