Green scores 21 to lead Pacers past Jazz 104-84
Posted at: 12/19/2012 11:36 PM
By CLIFF BRUNT
(AP) INDIANAPOLIS - It’s all starting to come together for Gerald Green and the Indiana Pacers.
Green scored a season-high 21 points to help the Indiana Pacers beat the Utah Jazz 104-84 on Wednesday night.
Paul George had 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks, and George Hill also scored 20 and had five assists for the Pacers, who matched their largest victory margin of the season and won for the fourth time in five games.
Indiana has been one of the league’s best defensive teams all season, but the Pacers have struggled to score while Danny Granger, last year’s top scorer, recovers from surgery on his left knee. Against Utah, the Pacers scored more than 100 points for just the fourth time this season and shot 51.3 percent from the field, the first time this season the Pacers were above 50 percent.
"It’s a big lift to really come out and play well on both sides of the floor," George said. "We knew our defense was holding up. A lot of times, our defense holds up, it’s just a matter of whether of if we’re capitalizing on the other end."
The Pacers took most of their shots in rhythm.
"I think we trusted passing more than we have all season and that’s what coach (Frank Vogel) has been preaching all year long," Hill said. "If we can believe in each other, trust in each other, try to create a shot for each other rather than for yourself all the time, we can have great offensive nights like we did tonight."
Green started in New Jersey last season, and the Pacers had high hopes for him after acquiring him during the summer. He had struggled with his shot recently and was dropped from the starting lineup, but he found a groove against the Jazz.
"We just want him being aggressive, and that’s how guys get out of shooting slumps _ not by being hesitant, but by getting that green light and just go," Vogel said.
Derrick Favors scored 16 points, Alec Burks had 12 and Mo Williams 11 for the Jazz, who lost their third in the last four games.
"They are a good defensive team," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "They took us out of what we wanted to do early. They forced a lot of late shot-clock shots, most of them from the perimeter."
The Jazz took an early 11-6 lead, but the Pacers dominated the rest of the first quarter and led 31-23 heading into the second.
George dominated the early part of the second quarter to help the Pacers extend their lead. Indiana led 53-31 at halftime, holding the Jazz to their lowest point total in a half this season. Utah made just 3 of 20 field goals in the second quarter and scored only eight points, a season low for a quarter.
"We took a defensive stand, communicating, helping one another, being in our gaps, making things tough, and when you do things like that, you know it’s going to be a great night," Hill said.
Hill had 14 points at halftime and George had 12.
A three-point play by David West early in the third quarter pushed Indiana’s lead to 56-33, and a layup by Hill extended it to 25 points. By the time the Jazz called timeout, the Pacers led 60-33.
Indiana continued to dominate defensively, and the Pacers ended the third quarter with a 76-51 lead. The Pacers’ largest lead in the quarter was 32 points. Utah was 6 for 18 from the field in the period, and by the end of the quarter only one Utah player had scored in double figures. Indiana had four players in double figures at that point.
It was a humbling loss for Utah, which had a season-low point total and was outscored 52-28 in the paint.
"I don’t know if we can get past this quickly," Utah guard Gordon Hayward said. "We just need to get back to work and work on things in practice. Eventually, we’ll put it behind us and move on."
Utah was coming off a 92-90 win at Brooklyn on Tuesday night, while Indiana lost at Milwaukee on Tuesday.
"Both of us playing back-to-back, I don’t think we can use that as an excuse," Hayward said. "We just got outplayed tonight."
NOTES: Hayward, a former Butler University star, scored eight points in 13 minutes at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, just a few miles from where he played college ball in Indianapolis. ... Utah G Jamaal Tinsley, a former Pacer, did not play. ... No Jazz player scored more than two points in the second quarter. Utah went 0 for 8 from 3-point range in that period. ... Indiana C Roy Hibbert, who had scored in single digits three of the past four games, finished with 12. ... Pacers first-round pick Miles Plumlee played for the first time since Nov. 18. He had an alley-oop dunk in the final minute. ... Pacers reserve guard Ben Hansbrough suffered a grade 1 sprain of his left shoulder.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)