The Houston Rockets found out first-hand what the Indiana Pacers can do when they get mad.
Paul George scored half of his 24 points in the game-breaking third-quarter, Lance Stevenson added 16, and the Pacers snapped their first two-game slide of the season Friday, with a 114-81 rout of the visiting Rockets.
“This team doesn’t like losing,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said following defeats to Detroit and Miami. “We lost two in a row, we talked about playing mad, and we played mad for four quarters.”
The Eastern Conference-best Pacers (21-5) also received 13 points from Argentine Luis Scola, while George Hill and David West added 12 apiece. Former All-Star forward Danny Granger added five points on 1-of-7 shootings off the bench in his season-debut following a calf strain.
“It’s exactly what I thought I’d see,” Vogel said of Granger. “He had a great performance despite the numbers, which we know are in a period of adjustment before the shot-making comes.”
Dwight Howard collected 19 points with 12 rebounds but James Harden finished with just 12 on a frosty 3-of-14 shooting for the Rockets (17-10), who were held 26 points below their season-average in the beat-down.
“We had no answers for them,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale said. “We weren’t moving, we weren’t attacking. They had us on our heels all night.”
After leading 56-45 at halftime, the Pacers broke open the game with a dominant 31-20 third-quarter behind a dozen points from George. “We came out with a lot of energy and I stayed in attack mode,” George said. “Tonight was one of those games we can look back at and take a lot out of. We played hard from the get-go, and our defence was phenomenal.”
LA Lakers 104, Minnesota Timberwolves 91: Nick Young scored 25 points, Spanish star Pau Gasol added 21 with 13 rebounds and eight assists, and the Lakers minus injured Kobe Bryant closed on a 14-2 run to beat the visiting T-Wolves. Bryant is expected to be out for about six weeks due to a broken bone in his left knee. Kevin Love led the T-Wolves with 25 points and 13 rebounds but went scoreless in the fourth quarter.
Philadelphia 76ers 121, Brooklyn Nets 120 (OT): Evan Turner capped a 29-point, 10-rebound effort with the game-winning layup at the overtime buzzer, lifting the Sixers over the visiting Nets, to snap a seven-game slide. Alan Anderson scored a season-high 26 points for the Nets, while Paul Pierce added 24 and 10 rebounds.
Cleveland Cavaliers 114, Milwaukee Bucks 111 (OT): Kyrie Irving erupted for 10 of his 39 points in overtime, including four free throws in the final 21 seconds, leading the Cavaliers past the undermanned Bucks. O.J. Mayo scored 20 points, while Brandon Knight added 17 with a career-high 14 rebounds for the league-worst Bucks (5-21) losers of five straight.
Charlotte Bobcats 116, Detroit Pistons 106: Kemba Walker scored 34 points, Al Jefferson had 15 of his 24 to spark a 22-7 closing run, and the visiting Bobcats stormed past the Pistons. Brandon Jennings tossed in 26 points for Detroit, which were outscored 41-17 in the fourth quarter.
Miami Heat 122, Sacramento Kings 103: Chris Bosh scored 25 points, Dwyane Wade had 20, and the Heat shot a sizzling 61 per cent, to beat the visiting Kings for the 18th time in the last 19 meetings despite DeMarcus Cousins’ game-high 27 points.
Atlanta Hawks 118, Utah Jazz 85: Lou Williams scored 25 points, Al Horford added 23, and the host Hawks drummed the visiting Jazz for their third straight win.
Toronto Raptors 109, Dallas Mavericks 108 (OT): DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points, including the off-balance go-ahead jumper while drawing a foul with 71 seconds left in overtime, and the Raptors held off the Mavericks. Spaniard Jose Calderon had 23 points while Dirk Nowitzki added 22 but missed two of the Mavs’ four shots in the final minute.
Phoenix Suns 103, Denver Nuggets 99: Markieff Morris scored 25 points, Gerald Green added 20, including six triples, rallying the visiting Suns past the Nuggets for their sixth win in seven games. Wilson Chandler had 15 points for the Nuggets, who were outscored 31-17 in the final frame.