HOUSTON, TX – The Indiana Pacers (12-10) have surprised some people with their good play so far this season. On Wednesday night, however, it was clear they still have plenty of work to do.
Taking on the Western Conference’s best in the Houston Rockets (17-4), Indy was completely outmatched again. The Pacers were torched by the Rockets in their first meeting with Houston and suffered the same result on Wednesday, losing 118-97 at Toyota Center.
Three-point shooting was the difference, especially in the second half. The Rockets drilled 14 of their 18 threes in the second half to help pull away from the Pacers.
The first half of Wednesday’s contest was a bit back-and-forth.
Indiana held the edge in the first quarter, going into period number two with a 27-22 lead. The Pacers led 11-6 early and despite Houston’s response to go in front, Indy withstood to lead after 12 minutes of play.
The second quarter belonged to the Rockets. Houston outscored Indiana 32-22, using a couple of late runs to go into the break with a 54-49 cushion.
It was a nice first half defensively for the Blue and Gold, who forced ten Houston turnovers. It was not a nice first half from downtown, though, as Indy shot just 3-for-14 from three-point range. The Pacers lead the NBA in three-point shooting, making their rough stat line all the more surprising.
Indy came out and played tough in the third quarter, but were only able to get as far as tying the game up early in the period before the Rockets broke through late. Houston led 69-64 with 4:52 to play in the third and in seemingly a blink of an eye, held a 89-71 advantage going into the fourth.
That 20-7 run was too much for the Pacers to overcome.
Indiana opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run of their own, cutting the Rockets’ lead down to 89-78, but it wasn’t enough. Houston coasted to victory, even outscoring Indy 29-26, to sweep the season series with the Pacers.
Thaddeus Young, who scored just two points in Monday’s game, bounced back to lead the Pacers in scoring on Wednesday with 23. Four others scored in double-figures for Indiana: Victor Oladipo (19), Bojan Bogdanovic (15), Myles Turner (15) and Lance Stephenson (11).
James Harden led all scorers on Wednesday with 29 points. Harden also dished out ten assists to lead Houston. Chris Paul, who did not play in Indianapolis on November 12, scored 13 points and handed out seven dimes.
Things won’t get much easier for the Blue and Gold in their next stop on their road trip. The Pacers will be in Toronto on Friday to battle the Raptors, who sit two games ahead in the Eastern Conference standings. Tip from north of the border is slated for 7:30 p.m.