INDIANAPOLIS — Victories, especially lopsided wins have been difficult to attain for the Indiana Pacers.
The Pacers scored a combined 67 points during the second and third quarters Thursday night on their way to a 103-82 victory against the New York Knicks at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The Pacers (17-31) made 14 of 23 field-goal tries in the second quarter and 15 of 23 in the third, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range, outscoring New York by 35 during that 24-minute window.
Indiana’s 21-point margin of victory is its largest this season in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and the Pacers’ 53.2 shooting percentage (42 of 79) is their best through 48 games.
“This game was about getting stops,” said Pacers forward Solomon Hill, who helped limit All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony to 7-of-16 shooting. “Then, we were taking good shots on our end. They got in a rhythm early on, but then we stayed with it. Our persistence paid off, and we got the W.”
Guard Rodney Stuckey led Indiana with 22 points while center Roy Hibbert added 18 points and 10 rebounds. Anthony had 18 and forward Lou Amundson added 17 for the Knicks (9-38), who are an NBA-worst 3-21 on the road.
“We were much more aggressive to begin the second half,” said Hibbert, who contributed 10 points and six rebounds in Indiana’s big third quarter. “At this point, every game is a big game for us as we try to get into the playoffs.”
The Pacers blew this one wide open by sinking 10 of their first 11 third-quarter field goal attempts, including five field goals from Hibbert, extending a five-point halftime lead to 76-56 with 6:36 remaining in the period.
Consecutive 3-pointers from guard C.J. Watson and Stuckey and then another Stuckey field goal created the 20-point lead just 5:24 into the second half.
Indiana continued to dominate, getting a pair of 3-pointers from Solomon Hill on its way to an 84-59 advantage at the 3:50 mark. By quarter’s end, the Pacers enjoyed an 89-61 lead.
Coach Frank Vogel liked the way the Pacers defended New York’s triangle offense.
“We defended the triangle well, especially seeing it for the first time for some of our guys,” Vogel said. “Really, it simply was a matter of good execution on both ends of the court. I thought Lavoy Allen did a nice job on the glass while he was in there.”
Vogel also credited the Pacers’ 50 points in the paint as a factor in pulling away.
“We know (the Knicks) are a little thin up front, and they are a team that also likes to guard the post straight up,” Vogel said. “We had an advantage going inside, and Roy got into a rhythm. We also made some 3-point shots, which helped open that up.”
Indiana outrebounded New York, 49-33.
“We couldn’t sustain the energy and the effort necessary to compete,” New York coach Derek Fisher said, “Their size started to wear us down a little bit, and we missed not having a couple of bodies in the paint tonight. They had more juice than us tonight, and they were the better team.
“In the second quarter when the game turned, we couldn’t get the separation we had initially. They have a lot of size up front, and that caused some problems.”
Amundson said the game simply got away from the Knicks in the third quarter.
“It was bad,” Amundson said. “They came out and hit shots and got a lot of confidence. It seemed like they came out with more effort and with more energy. Defensively, they had their way with us.”
Indiana used a 32-point second quarter to seize a 54-49 halftime lead, charging back from a 29-22 deficit through the first 12 minutes when the Knicks made 10 of their first 13 field goal attempts.
The Pacers got a big boost from their non-starters, who outscored the New York bench 23-7 during the first two quarters, including eight points and five rebounds from Allen. Allen, however, suffered a slight right knee injury late in first half action and did not return.
Stuckey’s 11 points paced Indiana during the opening half, while Anthony had 16 and Amundson scored 14 to lead the Knicks’ opening half scoring.
Each team shot well in the first two quarters. Indiana was 21 of 40 for 52.5 percent, and New York was 20 of 39 for 51.3 percent. The Pacers dominated the rebounding category during first half play, 25-17.
NOTES: The Knicks were without F/C Amare Stoudemire (sprained left ankle), F Travis Wear (strained left hip), C Cole Aldrich (confused left shin) and F/C Andrea Bargnani (strained right calf) on Thursday night. … The Pacers assigned 6-foot-11 rookie C Shayne Whittington to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants of the NBA Development League. He has played in 13 games for the Pacers, averaging 2.0 points and 1.2 rebounds after signing in July as an undrafted free agent out of Western Michigan. … G George Hill was in the original starting lineup for the Pacers but was replaced by F Solomon Hill. Hill played 12 minutes and scored eight points.
Rockets spoil Griffin’s return in testy affair
If James Harden needed any extra motivation against the Los Angeles Clippers, he found it in the first half.
Harden scored 34 points, and the Rockets held on for a 100-98 victory over the Clippers in a sometimes testy affair on Sunday at Staples Center.
Point guard Chris Paul, who finished with 23 points, missed a contested shot at the buzzer that would have forced overtime.
“It was very important for us just to go out there and play well,” said Harden, who hit seven of 16 shots from the floor, three of five from 3-point range and 17 of 18 free throws. “The last two games we kind of struggled a little bit, but we got our pop back a little bit today, and it was a good win for us.”
Harden provided much of that pop, particularly in the second quarter after Clippers forward Matt Barnes was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul after pushing Harden to the court at 6:02. Harden scored 15 of his 18 points in the period after that, leading the Rockets to a 58-50 halftime lead.
Did the flagrant foul add more fuel for the Rockets’ All-Star guard and MVP candidate?
“Yeah. Things like that are fun,” said Harden, who had 24 points in the first half. “We have fun, we got boosted off of that.”
The win ended a two-game skid for the Rockets (44-22). Houston forward Trevor Ariza scored 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while forward Terrence Jones added 16 points and 12 boards.
“This was a win that we needed, especially on the road,” Ariza said. “Going into the home stretch, these are the types of games we have to win.”
Los Angeles forward Blake Griffin returned after missing 15 games due to surgery on his right elbow. Griffin had 11 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, but committed five turnovers in 41 minutes.
“I didn’t think I played well,” said Griffin, who managed 4-of-10 shooting. “I was out of rhythm. Way too many turnovers, obviously.”
Barnes scored 19 points and guard J.J. Redick had 15 for the Clippers (42-24), who fell into a tie for the No. 5 spot in the Western Conference standings with the Dallas Mavericks.
Paul lamented a host of turnovers in the defeat, including a critical one involving center DeAndre Jordan.
“I had some bad turnovers,” said Paul, who committed three of the Clippers’ 20 miscues compared to 13 for the Rockets. “On one, I drove it off DeAndre’s foot, the other one I lost towards the end of the half. We have to take better care of the ball. We still had an opportunity to win, but we just didn’t do it.”
The Clippers came back from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit. Paul scored seven straight points, capping it with a 3-point basket to tie the score at 96 with 3:05 left in the game. Houston got a 3-pointer by Jones, but Barnes countered with a basket to keep Los Angeles within 99-98 with 1:35 left. Los Angeles, though, never scored again.
Griffin got a steal as Ariza attempted a pass to Harden, but Ariza drew a charging foul as Griffin bolted to the bucket with 12 seconds remaining. Griffin remained unhappy about the call after the game.
“If I speak on that, I’ll get fined,” Griffin said.
Harden hit one of two foul shots with 8.9 seconds left, capping the scoring before Paul failed to connect on a jumper in the lane with Ariza defending.
The Rockets outscored Los Angeles 36-20 in the second quarter despite making just 38.5 percent of their shots compared to 44.4 percent for the Clippers. Overall, the Clippers hit 43.9 percent to 37.2 percent for the Rockets. They also held an edge in 3-point shooting, converting 12 of 26 attempts to seven of 30 for Houston. The Rockets, though were 29 of 36 from the foul line to 14 of 24 for Los Angeles.
Jordan finished with 20 rebounds and four blocks.
NOTES: F Blake Griffin’s return benefits PG Chris Paul as much as any Clipper. “Teams have been able to trap (Paul) far more than they can when Blake is on the floor because of (Griffin’s) ability to pass,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “I’m sure CP is the happiest of all to have him back.” … Rivers isn’t sure if injured G Jamal Crawford would return before the playoffs. Crawford has missed six games with a right calf contusion. … Rockets C Dwight Howard sat out his 18th game with a right knee edema. “He’s doing everything he can, he’s trying to get better, but until you’re on the floor, it’s impossible to say,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said regarding Howard’s return. … Both clubs resume play Tuesday. Houston hosts the Orlando Magic, while Los Angeles plays the Charlotte Hornets at Staples Center.
Spurs’ Ginobili sprains ankle
SAN ANTONIO — Guard Manu Ginobili was helped off the floor late in the third quarter of the San Antonio Spurs’ game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday due to a sprained right ankle.
Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points. He was immediately was led to the locker room, and he did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court. He did not return to the game.
In 19 minutes during the Spurs’ 123-97 win over the Timberwolves, Ginobili scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday and leading him to play limited minutes against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday.
NBA notebook: Clippers’ Griffin cleared to return
Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, out the last 15 games with an elbow injury, was cleared to return Sunday against the Houston Rockets.
Griffin had surgery five weeks ago to remove a staph infection in his right elbow.
“He said, ‘I’m ready,'” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said before Sunday’s game. “Yesterday the trainers called me and said, ‘If he can go, he can go. He’s been cleared.'”
Rivers said timing likely will be an adjustment for Griffin.
“Timing is timing,” Rivers said. “You lose it when you don’t play in an NBA game. Sometimes you come back and you play great the first game and then you lose your timing. Sometimes it doesn’t. As far as the way we play, it won’t be hard for him at all.”
In 51 games this season, Griffin is averaging 22.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 5.1 assists.
–Spurs guard Manu Ginobili had to be helped off the floor late in the third quarter against Minnesota on Sunday. Ginobili went down with 43 seconds left in the quarter and with the Spurs leading the Timberwolves by 30 points.
He was helped off the floor and immediately was led to the locker room. He did not put any weight on his right leg as he was carried off the court.
Up to that point, Ginobili had scored 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting in 19 minutes. He battled a stomach illness last week, forcing him to miss a game against Toronto and play limited minutes against Cleveland on March 12.
–Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr sent emails to three fans who were disappointed that he rested several prominent players, including All-Star guards Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, in Friday’s loss to the Nuggets in Denver.
“There’s two really good sides to the story,” Kerr said, according to the Associated Press report. “Nobody’s wrong here. … I can’t argue with them.”
Kerr received an email from a family that drove from South Dakota to Denver to see Curry, Thompson and the entertaining Warriors play. But Curry, Thompson, center Andrew Bogut and reserve guard Andre Iguodala did not play so they could be rested, and the Warriors lost 114-103.
“I heard from some fans. I received a few emails, stories about driving in from a long distance off and spending a lot of money on tickets,” Kerr said. “I have great sympathy for those people. I really do. It’s a tricky one. It’s something that I think Adam Silver is trying to address through the scheduling shuffling that he’s talking about.
–The Dallas Mavericks recalled center/forward Dwight Powell from the Texas Legends of the NBA Development League on Sunday.
The 6-foot-11, 240-pound Powell played in one game during his most recent assignment to the D-League and finished with 28 points, five rebounds and two assists to lead the Legends in a 115-89 win over the Austin Spurs on Saturday night.
Powell has appeared in 19 games for the Mavericks this season, averaging 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.0 minutes per game.
–The Atlanta Hawks signed forward Austin Daye to a 10-day contract Sunday.
Daye appeared in 26 games (four starts) earlier this season with the San Antonio Spurs, averaging 4.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 10.3 minutes.
In 10 games this season with the Erie BayHawks of the NBA Development League, Daye has averaged 16.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.1 blocks in 28.5 minutes.
–The Miami Heat recalled guard Zoran Dragic from the Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League on Sunday.
Zoran appeared in four games (one start) and averaged 16.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.50 steals, helping the Skyforce to a 3-1 record over that span.