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Pacers show resilience in comeback victory over Rockets

HOUSTON, TX – FEBRUARY 27: Jeff Teague #44 of the Indiana Pacers handles the ball during a game against the Houston Rockets on February 27, 2017 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

HOUSTON — After what appeared to be a disastrous start, the Indiana Pacers fought back to defeat the Houston Rockets 117-108 on the road Monday night, sweeping the season series.

Indiana was ice cold to start the game, falling behind 18-2 in the first few minutes of the game. The comeback lasted until the Pacers were finally able to grab their first lead of the game with less than a minute remaining in the first half.  An 11-2 run late in the third quarter helped the Pacers pull away.

Houston cut the lead to two with about a minute left in the game, but a C.J. Miles three-pointer and several made free throws down the stretch sealed the win for Indiana.

Jeff Teague led the way with 25 points on the night, and his postgame quotes might have been the most telling representation of the game and season thus far.

“This is the firs time I felt like we really just stuck together,” Teague said. “Nobody really got down and we cheered for each other and kept competing.”

After the dismal start, perhaps the most encouraging sign was the play of the second unit, which has been inconsistent all season. The reserves helped start the comeback by triggering an 18-6 run of their own in the opening frame to get the game back within reach.

All-Star forward Paul George echoed Teague’s sentiments.

“We got off to a slow start and the only thing we had to do was stay together,” George said. “We didn’t have time at that point to get on ourselves and we needed to try to win the game, and we had to do it together. We did a great job of collecting our thoughts, we went back to the bench and talked and we won every quarter after that.”

Pacers forward Rakeem Christmas continued to impress in his third game with solid minutes in the midst of Al Jefferson’s absence due to an emergency root canal. Christmas scored a new career-high 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor and also grabbed three rebounds.

The Pacers (31-29) are now 2-1 since the NBA All-Star break, on the heels of a six-game losing streak to end the first half of the season. Indiana stays in the state of Texas as it travels to San Antonio to play the Spurs on Wednesday night.

 

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