The Indiana Pacers seem to be getting pretty comfortable playing in Dallas. After their Saturday afternoon 112-105 win, the Pacers have won four straight over the Dallas Mavericks. Saturday's game would mark Monta Ellis' first appearance at Dallas since he left via free agency to sign with the Pacers in the summer of 2015.
Mavericks Continue to Struggle
Dallas had lost four straight games, three of those at home, coming into Saturday. The Mavericks were ready to defend their home court, and would do their best to bring a Pacers team, who was coming off a win four days earlier against the NBA's second-best team, the San Antonio Spurs, back to Earth. However, Dallas would struggle to contain the Pacers weapons Ellis and Paul George. George would score 20 to lead Indiana, 18 of which came in the second half, after he tallied just two first-half points. Dallas was able to keep the game close throughout the first half, it would take a 16-9 Pacers' run to close the second quarter, just for Indiana to hold a 55-51 lead at the half.
Pacers Bring Out Weapons in Second Half
"They're playing angry, they need this win, but we need it more," said Pacers' assistant coach Dan Burke, speaking with Fox Sports Indiana's Jeremiah Johnson, of the magnitude of this game for both teams.(Courtesy: Fox Sports Indiana)
George would score his first points of the second half with 9:43 remaining in the third quarter, on his way to a big second half, helping key the Pacers win. George's team-high 20 points would mark his 42nd twenty-point game of the season.
Ellis would also be key to the Pacers defeating Dallas, as he would create multiple and-1 plays over the course of the second half, helping stave off Dallas' attempts to comeback and overtake the Pacers. With 2:28 remaining in the fourth quarter, Ellis drove to the basket, and drew the foul, completing the three-point play to give the Pacers a 106-99 lead. Ellis' foul shot also kept the Pacers a perfect 23/23 from the line on the night to that point.
Pacers Near-Perfect Night
The Pacers have struggled at times this season from the foul line. They have left numerous points at the line, which could've helped them tremendously as they struggled to close out game earlier this season. On Saturday however, the Pacers didn't have too much trouble knocking down their foul shots. Indiana ended up 27/29 from the foul line. The only two misses came courtesy of George, and George Hill, who both missed one foul shot each.
Distance Shooting Downs Dallas
During the first three quarters of Saturday's game, the Pacers found it troublesome to hit the three-point shot, they shot just 6 of 23. During the fourth quarter, something happened to change their fortunes. The Pacers would hit three three-point shots to help seal the win. All three came courtesy of Hill who would finish the game with 16 points.
"George Hill was huge knocking down the three threes in the fourth (quarter)," said Pacers head coach Frank Vogel, speaking with the media.(courtesy: www.foxsports.com)
Closing Out Down the Stretch
The Pacers knew that Dallas was not going to go down easily. Dallas was hungry for a win and wanted nothing more than to get it at home, where they have lost three straight games.
Indiana would seal the win though with clutch foul shooting, staunch defense, and a balanced team effort. Indiana would score on seven of their final eight possessions.
The Pacers would end up with seven players scoring in double figures. The balanced attack was fueled by assists and just generally sharing the ball. The Pacers totaled 24 assists on the game. Ellis led the team with seven assists, and George was second with six.
"When you share the ball, you're going to have the balance we had tonight," said Vogel, speaking with the media, of the balanced attack, and ball movement his team used to get the win. (courtesy:www.foxsports.com)
Between Hill hitting timely three-point shots in the fourth quarter, several Pacers hitting key foul shots down the stretch, including Myles Turner, who hit two with just seconds left to put the game out of reach, Indiana was able to hold off Dallas down the stretch.
The final score stood Indiana 112 Dallas 105.
Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with a game-high 30 points.
The win notched another in the column of close games for Indiana. They have now played in twelve games this season that were decided by ten points or less.
The Pacers complete their road trip on Sunday as they head to Atlanta to face the Hawks for the final time this season. This is another game that will be important for playoff positioning in just a few short weeks. The season series with the Hawks stands currently at 2-1 in favor of the Pacers. Both wins coming in Indianapolis, Indy dropped their only visit to Atlanta this season back on February 5th in another close contest, 102-96. Tip time Sunday in Atlanta is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. EST.