There's a few ways to look at the Houston Rockets, who had lost five straight heading into their game with the Pacers. The first is that they are struggling and would be a perfect bounceback opponent for the Pacers after their dreadful loss against the Magic. The second is that the Rockets are desperate for a win and would be extremely dangerous.
I think the first theory turned out to be true. The Pacers didn't really have a lot of trouble with the Rockets in the end and cruised to a 105-95 victory, their 11th straight at home. The Pacers actually played at the Rockets speed, but which was a risky move considering how awful their offence has been all season.
But luckily for the Pacers, Paul George had it going, pouring in 31 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 5 steals in another strong statement game that may eventually land him in his first all-star game. David West made a statement of his own with 20 points, 11 rebounds and 7 assists. For the season, George is averaging 17.3 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.75 blocks, while West is averaging 16.6 points, 8 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
George has had some huge games and he's been one of the best wing defenders in the league. Tonight he held James Harden, one of the top scorers in the league, to 17 points on 5-19 shooting. West, on the other hand, has been a rock, the most consistent offensive player, by far, on the team, and the clutchest. Considering how the Pacers are going right now (25-16, first in Central) you'd had to say both have a moderate chance to nab one of the last spots on the roster.
Gerald Green had food poisoning and missed the game, and Ian Mahinmi was lost in the second half with a stomach ailment. But that was probably a good thing overall because it meant more minutes for the starters.
Now the road gets very tough. Four road games out West against the Grizzlies, Blazers, Jazz and Nuggets. No back-to-backs, which is crucial, but considering how much the Pacers have struggled lately on the road, it's going to be a struggle just going 2-2 on this trip. Anything better would be a huge boost of confidence.