Paul George leads as Indiana Pacers hold off New Orleans Pelicans

By Jeff Washburn, The Sports Xchange  |  Jan. 17, 2017 at 2:12 AM
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Having absorbed a 28-point loss to Denver this past Thursday in London, the Indiana Pacers were desperate for a victory before beginning a three-game road trip Wednesday night at Sacramento.

While Indiana's effort was far from artistic, Paul George scored 19 points, and the Pacers held on for a 98-95 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Tyreke Evans missed a potential game-tying 3-pointer from the right corner as time expired, sealing the victory for the Pacers (21-19), who got 18 points and 12 rebounds from Myles Turner, 17 points from Thaddeus Young and 16 points and 10 assists from Jeff Teague.

New Orleans (16-26) got 16 points from Anthony Davis, who suffered a right hip and left thumb injury on a drive to the basket with 7:08 left in the third quarter. X-rays were negative, but he did not return to the game.

E'Twaun Moore and Terrence Jones each added 15 points for the Pelicans, Evans had 12, Jrue Holiday scored 11 and Buddy Hield had 10.

"We didn't want to drop one at home," Turner said. "Our defense saved us at the end."

Indiana shot 50.6 percent (41 of 81), and New Orleans shot 42.9 percent (36 of 84).

"I think the best thing about this game was that we were able to finish it out defensively," Teague said.

Indiana had to play well defensively at the end because it was only 2 of 6 from the free throw line in the final 26.5 seconds after New Orleans' Solomon Hill had sliced the deficit to 96-95 with 41 seconds to play.

"The story of our season has been trying to close out games and taking care of the basketball," Indiana coach Nate McMillan said. "We just have not put teams away, and that's something we were talking about all the way back in training camp.

"Tonight, it was a total breakdown. We had lots of lazy possessions and missed free throws down the stretch. We've got to be better. Our execution at the end, you won't win many games like that."

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Glenn Robinson III and George gave Indiana a 70-60 third-quarter lead, but New Orleans pulled within 76-70 with 12 minutes remaining despite Davis going to the locker room with his injuries.

"We got good looks at the basket at the end, but they just didn't go down," New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said. "Davis going down obviously took some momentum away, but I think our guys regrouped and kept us hanging in there and put us in a position to win."

The Pacers were shooting 52.4 percent (33 of 63) through three quarters while the Pelicans were shooting 46.6 percent (27 of 58) after 36 minutes.

New Orleans dominated the second quarter, outscoring the Pacers 34-22 to close to within 54-52 at halftime. The Pelicans made six 3-pointers during the second period, when Moore contributed seven points off the bench and Davis scored eight to finish the first 24 minutes with 14.

"We played well, well enough to win," Moore said. "I just wish we got the victory. Give Indiana credit, because we did not get off to a good start. But it was good to come back and be in a position to win. We had two good shots at the end, but they just didn't fall."

Indiana raced to a 32-18 lead after one quarter, making 14 of 21 field goal attempts, including 13 of 19 (68.4 percent) from its starting five. George led with nine points while Teague and Young delivered six each. Teague handed out six assists in the opening 12 minutes.

The Pacers outrebounded the Pelicans 12-7 in the first period and forced five turnovers, which Indiana converted into six points. Davis and Hield each scored six first-quarter points for New Orleans, which shot 38.1 percent in the opening period.

NOTES: The Pacers were without G Rodney Stuckey (sore left hamstring) on Monday. ... Indiana was coming off a 140-112 loss to Denver this past Thursday in London, a defeat that snapped a season-long five-game winning streak ... The Pelicans entered Monday's game ranked second in blocks per game (5.9) and fourth in opponents' field goal percentage (43.9) ... The Pacers led the NBA in free throw percentage (82.1) and were fourth in opponents' 3-point shooting percentage (34.3) before Monday's games. ... Until the Pelicans registered a 102-95 victory on Dec. 15 in New Orleans, the Pacers had won the 10 most recent games in the series ... Pelicans' G E'Twaun Moore (9.8 points a game) played college ball at Purdue, 65 miles from Bankers Life Fieldhouse and is an East Chicago, Ind., native ... Indiana heads West for games against the Lakers, Kings and Jazz.

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