USA TODAY Sports
Charlotte jumped out to a small early lead, but unraveled in the second half
After all that talking about Paul George I did yesterday, and he didn't even play. No, George was sidelined with the flu, forcing Indiana to play without their two best wings (the other of course being Danny Granger).
The Bobcats jumped out to a quick start, rattling off an 8-0 run to begin the game. They were taking advantage of overloading the interior with their zone defense, forcing the Pacers to beat them from the outside. The Bobcats' offense worked the ball around to find openings and hustled to get decent shots. They moved quickly and efficiently in transition.
It was a fine idea to begin with. The Pacers don't have great shooters. But the Bobcats' defense is perfectly capable of making that matter very little.
As the first few minutes of the game disappeared into the rearview mirror, the Pacers closed the deficit quickly. Their presence in the paint was overwhelming on the boards, nearly doubling up Charlotte in offensive rebounds. The effect was three-fold: it extended possessions for Indiana, giving them more shots; it helped take time off the clock, keeping the pace very slow; and it forced the Bobcats to be much more mindful about the paint than the perimeter.
Meanwhile, the team's normally productive bench couldn't find its footing. Ben Gordon had a fine game, but no one else on the bench really did, especially Ramon Sessions. Sessions' shot wasn't falling and his attempts at driving fell on deaf ears. Couple these together with their inabilities to stay in front of their opponents, and you have a recipe for losing your bench advantage.
And lose it they did, giving D.J. Augustin one of his best games of the season, and against his former team, no less.
But the catalyst for the Pacers ultimately was David West, who had a triple-double. His rebounding gave the Pacers plenty of second-chance points; his passing stretched the Bobcats from inside out; and his scoring in the frontcourt made life even harder for the Bobcats. Life's hard enough for Biyombo trying to guard Roy Hibbert, but with Hakim Warrick's defense and boxing out, or lack thereof I should say, Biyombo was further marginalized.
I can't really say much more about this game. The basics are this: the Pacers grabbed 37% of their offensive rebounding opportunities, shot more efficiently than Charlotte because of more threes, and forced Charlotte into a higher percentage of turnovers.