They may not have lost much on the offensive end, but the loss of Roy Hibbert in the second quarter to a bruised thigh certainly made me sweat a little. Fortunately, David West buckled down and entered beast mode in the second half, and George Hill and Paul George continued their stellar play as the Pacers overcame the Pistons 88-77 in Detroit, giving them their first three-game winning streak of the season.
The Pacers (13-11) have been one of the best defensive teams in the league this season largely due to the presence of Hibbert, who has become an anchor down low and a shot blocking machine. Sure, he might also be one of the most inept offensive centers in the league right now, but his defense is a big reason why the Pacers have been able to win games despite struggling on offense.
Hibbert already had 4 blocks in 15 minutes when he went straight to the locker room for treatment. Detroit kind of hung around because of that, especially after David West went to the bench with four fouls in the third. Pendergraph got eight minutes of play, but the guy who contributed most off the bench was Tyler Hansbrough, who had 11 points and 6 boards in 25 minutes, including a bunch of hustle plays.
In the end though, it was the stellar trio of West, Hill and George that got the job done. West exploded for 19 of his 23 points in the second half, pretty much toying with the Piston's defense, hitting step back jumpers, driving left handed layups and jump hooks. He also had 5 rebounds and 4 assists in an all-round beastly effort.
George Hill backed up his first career triple-double with 18 points and 7 assists, but what impressed me the most was that he did it on just 7 field goal attempts, hitting 5, while also knocking down all 6 free throw attempts.
Paul George, who had 15, didn't pour in the points tonight but he didn't have to. He struggled a little with his shot, hitting 6-16 (including 1-7 from downtown), but he did flirt with a triple-double by adding 8 assists and 8 rebounds, plus 4 steals and a block. George and West are really becoming a dynamic duo and have the best chemistry of any two teammates on the team.
Next up, another huge game on the line against the Central leading Bucks in Milwaukee on Tuesday. That team's lineup is all wrong for the Pacers, so hopefully both Roy and Lance Stephenson will be back from injuries by then.