Streaking Pacers Sweep Weekend
Al Jefferson and the Indiana Pacers extended their season-best win streak to six games over the weekend, beating the Brooklyn Nets 106-97 on Friday and the Detroit Pistons 105-84 on Saturday.
At times on Friday night, it looked like Big Al and Co. would be able to cruise to a fifth straight win, but Brooklyn didn’t make it easy.
Indiana started quickly, gaining a 10-point lead in the opening four minutes and finishing the first up 11. After a couple of free throws in the first, Al sank his first shot to open the second, making a layup with 11:08 to go until the half. Big Al rounded out his first half scoring a couple of minutes later, staying with Aaron Brooks as he drove into the paint and taking his bounce pass to convert a short jumper.
While the Nets briefly threatened in the second, Indiana still led by double digits at the half. The Pacers pushed the lead to 14 midway through the third, but Brooklyn did not go quietly. The Nets closed the third on a 21-9 run to cut Indiana’s lead to six entering the final period.
Big Al scored twice in the third, backing down Luis Scola and spinning around him for a hook shot with 1:47 left and catching an over the shoulder, over the defense pass from Brooks for a layup with 11.5 seconds left.
No. 7 opened the fourth with a highlight reel play. With Monta Ellis dribbling towards the right elbow, Al made a hard cut towards the basket and lost his man for a wide open dunk.
That basket gave the Pacers an eight-point lead, but an 11-1 run by the Nets that included two Quincy Acy 3-pointers gave Brooklyn an 85-83 lead. Indiana briefly regained the lead with 7-2 run, but the Nets continued to attack. The lead was just three points with 2:12 to play, but the Pacers held on by outscoring Brooklyn 10-4 the rest of the way.
Al chipped in 11 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes in the victory.
“Our guys showed road toughness,” said head coach Nate McMillan after the game. “No road game is easy. They came out loose, played very aggressive and shot the ball well. But down the stretch we made the plays we needed to make on both ends of the floor.”
Up next were the Pistons on the second night of the back-to-back, where the Pacers were just 2-7 on such occasions entering the game. The task would be that much more difficult with starting power forward Thaddeus Young out with a sprained wrist.
Neither team was able to gain much traction in the first quarter, but Detroit took a 32-30 lead after one.
Big Al got his night going to start the second quarter, tipping out an offensive rebound and then backing Aaron Baynes into the paint and spinning around him for a layup to open the quarter. Al would score again a couple minutes later on a running jumper to round out his first half scoring effort.
The Pacers were able to eke out a slim lead thanks to six straight points from Jeff Teague in the second, but the Pistons fought back and again took a slight advantage at the end of a quarter.
The third quarter ended up being the turning point in the game. Indiana used a 12-0 run to open a double-digit lead thanks to 11 Pistons turnovers in the quarter.
“One stop after another just fueled us,” said George of the quarter. “Getting those stops, it fueled us energy-wise.”
Big Al scored four straight points at the end of the quarter, hitting a turnaround jumper over Baynes with 2:08 left and spinning around Baynes for a layup with 1:40 left.
Al continued to terrorize Baynes in the fourth, hitting a jumper over him with 10:13 to play in the fourth that pushed the lead back double-digits and again with 9:44 to play.
Detroit didn’t threaten the rest of the way and the Pacers were able to coast to their third win over the Pistons this season.
Al contributed 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting and three rebounds in 14 minutes. It was his third straight game in double figures.
The Pacers had just six turnovers to the Pacers 21, including 11 steals.
The Pacers play their third game in four days against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night. Tipoff from Bankers Life Fieldhouse is at 4 p.m. EST.