In a night that was full of emotion for some Indiana Pacers fans, as it was the first home game since the trade of fan favorite Danny Granger, it was his replacement, Evan Turner, who gave the fans a whole new reason to cheer.
Turner entered the game with 4:34 left in the first quarter and was greeted with cheers. He then drained a turnaround jumper, his first bucket as a Pacer, with 1:54 left, earning louder cheers from the crowd.
It was a quick showing of why Larry Bird made the 11th hour trade. Turner turned in a 13-point, six-rebound performance, helping power the bench to 50 total points and the Pacers to a 118-98 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Pacers are now 3-1 since the All-Star break and 11-3 in the month of February. They are two games up on the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference and reclaimed the best record in the league, percentage points wise.
George Hill started hot, scoring nine of his 14 points in the first quarter on 4-of-5 shooting. With an early 12 point lead, it appeared the Pacers were going to run away with the game. But just like against the Milwaukee Bucks, their offense and defense slumped at the same time, allowing the Lakers back into the game.
At halftime Kent Bazmore — please raise your hand if you’ve heard of him…ok now lower it because you’re lying — led the Lakers with 13 points, helping them cut the lead to three, 57-54.
Paul George scored 12 of his team high 20 in the third quarter. The Pacers would finish the quarter with 34 total points and a 91-70 lead. George wouldn’t play in the fourth quarter, finishing with 20 points, seven rebounds and six assists
Lance Stephenson was the only starter to play in the fourth quarter, scoring five of his 13. Seven Pacers, including all five starters, finished in double-figures and 10 scored five or more points.
As a team the Pacers shot 47-of-101, 5-of-16 from three-point range, 19-of-25 from free throw and grabbed an astounding 62 total rebounds.
For a team struggling with finding a way to get back to the 25-5 team they once were, this game showed they’re making strides in the right direction. While the Granger trade may have been unpopular, it looked like yet another genius move by Larry Bird last night.