Game Rewind: Pacers 123, Warriors 131
The 2015-16 Golden State Warriors are making a legitimate run at the greatest regular season in NBA history and the first three quarters of Tuesday’s contest against the Pacers may have been their best performance yet. The defending NBA champions extended their perfect record to 23-0 with a 131-123 win over the Pacers (12-8) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana entered Tuesday evening just a half-game out of first place in the Eastern Conference and the national media descended upon Indianapolis as many experts circled the Pacers as capable of ending Golden State’s unbeaten streak.
The Warriors reeled off a 22-0 run midway through the first quarter and led by double digits until the final two minutes, withstanding a valiant Pacers rally to come away with a victory.
“That’s why they’re 23-0,” Pacers head coach Frank Vogel said after the loss. “They’re terrific in a lot of areas with just a flammable offense.”
With the sellout crowd abuzz, the Pacers actually got off to a fast start, jumping out to an early 11-4 lead. That success continued for a few minutes longer as both teams played at a nearly frantic pace.
Ian Mahinmi’s layup gave Indiana a 21-15 lead with 6:40 to play in the first quarter, but no Pacers player got back on the other end, allowing Warriors forward Draymond Green to cherry-pick for an easy dunk.
That dunk would end up being the start of a 22-0 run by Golden State that completely changed the complexion of the game. The Pacers came up scoreless on their next 10 possessions over a 4:59 stretch, while the Warriors seemingly couldn’t miss. Klay Thompson scored eight of 10 points early in the run, and fellow “Splash Brother” Stephen Curry closed it by scoring the final eight.
By the time the first quarter was over, the visitors had a 44-28 lead and were 16-for-26 from the field (61.5 percent). Those 44 points were seven more than Indiana had allowed in any quarter so far this season.
“Our transition defense early was poor,” Vogel said. “You give a guy like Klay a chance to get going and hit his first couple of shots, then everything goes in at that point.”
The Warriors stretched their lead to as many as 20 points in the second quarter, but the Pacers fought back. Indiana reeled off nine straight points to climb back within 11, but Thompson took over again down the stretch.
The Warriors’ All-Star forward hit four straight 3-pointers to reestablish Golden State’s cushion. In fact, Thompson finished the half with 29 points while going 8-for-10 from beyond the arc, already setting season highs for both points and 3-pointers made.
“You could see the look in his eyes,” Curry said of his teammate’s performance. “When he has that look he is going to have his confidence all night.”
The visitors led by as many as 32 in the third quarter before Indiana mounted one final charge with the Warriors’ starters resting for much of the final period. The Blue & Gold started the fourth quarter on a 25-10 run that cut the deficit to 13 and forced Warriors interim head coach Luke Walton to reinsert Curry and Thompson.
The Pacers cut the lead to nine on Solomon Hill’s layup with 1:37 left, then made it a seven-point game on Chase Budinger’s layup with 54.6 seconds left. But Curry’s layup in traffic on the other end effectively sealed the victory for Golden State.
Paul George led Indiana in the loss with 33 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. C.J. Miles added 22 points, while knocking down 5-of-11 3-pointers.
Thompson led all scorers with 39 points while going 10-for-16 from 3-point range and also collected seven points and six assists. He did, however, exit the game with 54.6 seconds left after rolling his right ankle.
Curry, the reigning MVP and NBA’s leading scorer, only made 3-of-11 triples but still finished with 29 points, seven boards, and 10 assists.
“We just gave up points way too fast,” George said after the game. “They are going to score, but we needed to be more effective defensively.”
Though there is no shame in losing to the Warriors’ juggernaut, the Pacers have now dropped three straight games including losses in Portland and Utah at the end of last week’s West Coast road trip. They’ll look to bounce back on Friday night, when they host the Miami Heat at The Fieldhouse at 7:00 PM ET.
Inside the Numbers
The Pacers made 14-of-33 3-pointers (42.4 percent) in Tuesday’s contest, the third-most threes they’ve made in a game this season. But Golden State was even better beyond the arc, going 16-for-36 (44.4 percent) from long distance.
George topped 30 points for the ninth time in the last 11 games.
Curry recorded his third double-double of the season. Warriors center Andrew Bogut had his second double-double (14 points and 10 rebounds).
The Warriors’ .547 field goal percentage was the highest by a Pacers opponent in any game this season and just the fourth time in 20 games that they allowed their opponents to shoot over 50 percent.
Despite being out of the rotation for most of the season, Pacers forward Solomon Hill got early minutes as a defensive specialist and was on the floor for Indiana’s fourth-quarter rally. Hill finished with six points and nine rebounds in 21:08. His five offensive rebounds matched his career high.
You Can Quote Me On That
“They shot the ball really well for most of the game. We gave them some stuff when we probably slipped up on the defensive end, but they made a bunch of threes and tough shots and they executed really well. The biggest thing is when they go on runs, they go on runs with threes and that really starts to add up.” -Miles
“We just kept competing. The guys that came in off the bench went in and tried to play hard, push the ball and play up tempo…It just shows we’re going to fight to the end no matter what.” -Pacers forward Chase Budinger (12 points and seven rebounds) on the fourth quarter rally
“I was very selective with my shots. I was taking my shots in rhythm. On this night I just happened to get a lot of great looks. It’s a great feeling. I felt like I was due for a game like that.” -Thompson
“The last quarter was just ridiculous. We lost our focus. That team continued to fight…We know our standards and we didn’t meet our standards in the fourth quarter. That team never quits. They showed that. That is in their DNA.” -Warriors forward Draymond Green
by Wheat Hotchkiss