A night after one of the most disappointing losses of the season to the Milwaukee Bucks, the Indiana Pacers (14-12) responded with their best overall performance of the season in an 104-84 thumping of the Utah Jazz (14-13).
This was easily the best the Pacers offense has looked this season, leading at one time in the third quarter by 32 points. It was the first time Indiana has scored in triple figures in nearly a month. The Pacers shot over 50% from the field for the first time this season.
“Our offense is coming,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said after the game. “We executed well on the offensive end. We were all disappointed how we executed in the second half (Tuesday) night against Milwaukee. We had great focus tonight.”
Roy Hibbert, who has been mired is offensive mediocrity the entire season, got the blue and gold going early with eight points in the first quarter, which included strong and aggressive post play. The rest of the team fed off Hibbert’s energy to grab a double digit lead early in the second quarter and never look back.
It was also a coming out party for Gerald Green, who led all scorers with 21 points off the bench. Green got into his groove early with seven points in the first quarter, including two 3-pointers. He scored in double figures for the first time in over a month by playing his game. Green is a catch-and-shoot player who doesn’t handle the ball particularly well, but can attack the rim when given room. He showed that ability throughout the game, including a one-hand tomahawk slam that had the crowd at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse buzzing. Green can be an effective player when he stays in his lane. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come from him as the Pacers desperately needs his scoring off the bench to become a more well-rounded team.
Also, Paul George continued to stuff the stat sheet. He finished with 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting, 11 rebounds and four blocks. The reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week is on a hot streak that doesn’t look to have an end to it. His backcourt running mate, George Hill, also had 20 points.
The Pacers ran their offense with great precision. They outscored the Jazz 52-28 in the paint by working the ball in the post early in the shot clock and penetration in the half court on pick-and-roll offense. They also got out in transition more than usual to score 16 fast break points, compared to only four in the previous game.
This was the perfect way to respond after a tough loss on the road the previous night. An 104-point game is a virtual offensive explosion for this team. With back-to-back road games this weekend against inferior competition, the Pacers’ offense has a chance to make a performance like this the norm and not an aberration.
Follow Jay Neal on Twitter @JayNilla