Gosh these Pacers can be frustrating. Whenever you think they’ve turned the corner they chuck up a turd. But whenever you think they’re just about done they pull off a stunning victory like the one they did tonight against the Spurs.
Final score, 99-91, with most of the damage done in the first quarter as the Pacers raced off to a 25-13 lead and held the Spurs to a season-low 32 points in the first half.
This was Monta’s night as he finished with 26 points (on 8-13 shooting), including a huge driving layup down the stretch to keep the Spurs at bay. Paul George fought Kawhi Leonard to a virtual standstill, each putting up 23 points (PG needed 20 shots to get there while Kawhi needed 23). PG effectively iced the game with 15 seconds with an and-one over Leonard shortly after the latter scored at the other end. The free throw put the Pacers up by 6 and the Spurs couldn’t make up the difference in the time remaining.
By the way, tonight was also the start of the Ty Lawson era. The troubled guard was picked up after being waived by the Rockets, and the Pacers waived Chase Budinger to make room for him. Not much to see tonight though, as Lawson sprained his ankle after 5 minutes of action and didn’t return. He finished with a grand total of 0 points (0-1 shooting), 2 assists and a rebound.
With CJ Miles still out with injury, it seems Solomon Hill is getting most of the minutes at backup SF. It’ll be interesting to see how the team plays after CJ returns and we get a second unit of Lawson, Stuckey (who had 12 tonight), CJ, Jordan Hill and someone else from the starting unit.
With the win, the Pacers hold on in the East standings and remain at No. 7. They’ll continue to have their work cut out for them with 2 road games coming up, against the Mavs and then a big one against the Hawks (who remain in 5th place). Then it’s more crucial games, against Boston and Toronto. All of these will have playoff implications. If the Pacers are serious about making a push, now is the time.