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Pacers sneak past Curry-less Warriors

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INDIANAPOLIS — Despite a sprained left ankle, Indiana Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey was feeling no pain Sunday night.

For the first time in his career, Stuckey scored 30 points in consecutive games, leading the Pacers to a 104-98 victory over the short-handed Golden State Warriors in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Stuckey, who scored 30 on Friday night in a victory at Philadelphia, made a season-best 11 field goals on 17 attempts. He scored 15 in each half as the Pacers (23-33) posted their sixth victory in seven games.

Golden State (43-10) got 39 points from guard Klay Thompson but played without its leading scorer, All-Star guard Stephen Curry, who has a sprained right ankle.

Stuckey asked the Pacers’ coaching staff to move him into a reserve role, and the change is working well.

“I can be more aggressive with the second unit,” Stuckey said. “I can do a lot more things, create for myself and also look for my teammates. I thought it was a better fit for me. I’m feeling more confident, being more aggressive, and that is my game. When I am aggressive on the court, that is when I’m at my best.”

Pacers coach Frank Vogel was thrilled that Stuckey was able to play through the ankle ailment.

“He is as tough as they come,” Vogel said. “He is shooting the heck out of it and is playing with confidence. Obviously, with Rodney coming off the bench and doing what he has done the past few games, it is something special.”

Indiana led 89-84 with 6:27 remaining, but six consecutive points from Thompson, including four free throws, gave Golden State a 90-89 lead with 4:05 left. Consecutive baskets from Stuckey and forward David West pushed the Pacers in front 93-90 with 3:11 to play.

A clutch 3-pointer from guard C.J. Miles with 26.5 seconds left gave the Pacers a 101-97 lead, and two Stuckey free throws with 4.8 seconds to go accounted for the final score.

Miles scored 13 for the Pacers, guards George Hill and C.J. Watson each contributed 12, and forward Luis Scola had 11.

Guard Andre Iguodala scored 14 points for the Warriors, who shot only 38.2 percent from the field (34 of 89). Indiana shot 48.1 percent (39 of 81).

Golden State made only 21 of 66 field goal attempts (31.8 percent) after the first quarter.

“I thought we competed and played hard,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said about playing without Curry. “Steph is good. He was sore in warmups, and we didn’t want to take any chances. We will take it day to day.”

Thompson added, “They were able to grind out the game. It is not easy without your best player. You are not going to win every game in an 82-game season.”

Indiana got 61 points from its bench, while Golden State received 35 points from its reserves.

Stuckey’s 3-pointer at the third-period horn pushed the Pacers into an 81-78 lead. Thompson scored 11 points in the quarter.

Getting 15 first-half points from Stuckey and 10 from Watson, each of whom came off the bench, Indiana led 58-57 through 24 minutes. The Pacers shot 51.2 percent (21 of 41) from the field in the opening half.

The Warriors led 38-26 through one quarter, receiving 15 from Thompson during the first 12 minutes and eight from Iguodala. Thompson finished the half with 17. Golden State made 13 of 23 first-period field goal attempts but slumped to seven of 26 in the second quarter, when it was outscored 32-19.

NOTES: Veteran G Shaun Livingston started in place of Warriors G Stephen Curry, and he finished with eight points and five rebounds in 26 minutes. … The Warriors are the only team with two of the NBA’s top 10 scorers with Curry seventh at 23.6 and G Klay Thompson 10th at 22.0. … Thompson began the day tied for fourth in 3-point field goal percentage at .440. He hit only five of 13 3-point tries Sunday. … Thompson scored 40 on Jan. 7 when the Warriors defeated the Pacers 117-102 in Oakland, Calif. … Indiana has 10 home games in March and only six on the road.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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