It had been a rough week for the Indiana Pacers, who lost back-to-back games for the first time this season and gave up the best record in the NBA. On Friday night, they decided to take out their frustration on the Houston Rockets and destroyed them in the process.
The evening was already special because Danny Granger was making his long-awaited return to the court after missing the first 25 games of the season and only playing in five last year. Instead, Granger became a footnote as the Pacers erupted for season highs in points (114), three-pointers made (12), and margin of victory (33).
Paul George, MVPG, returned to his MVP ways by dropping 24 points and grabbing nine boards, but it was his defense against James Harden that stood out the most. Harden came in averaging 24.4 points per game — sixth best in the NBA — and George held him to 12 points on 3-of-14 shooting.
A total of six Pacers scored in double figures, while Roy Hibbert finished with nine. It was that dominating of a performance.
Granger’s presence on the floor appeared to give Indiana that boost off the bench they’ve been looking for all season. Granger was methodical in everything he did from passing, to defense, to shot selection. He wasn’t 100 percent, which no one thought he would be, and it showed as he shot 1-of-7 with five points, two rebounds, two assists, and a block on Dwight Howard to mark his return.
This was the most complete game the Pacers have played against a top tier opponent this season. And while it’s too early to say whether Granger will make a big difference, it’s not too soon to say the Pacers are back to their winning ways. They put the rest of the league on notice Friday night. The Pacers may not be perfect every night, but when they are they’re arguably the most dangerous team in the league.