San Antonio Spurs (10-3) 104
Indiana Pacers (6-8) 97
It was a battle from the tip between the Indiana Pacers and San Antonio Spurs on the day after Thanksgiving at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. All that counts, however, is the outcome. That outcome went in San Antonio’s favor as they beat Indiana for the 11th straight time.
First it was the Spurs that jumped out in front early, taking a 28-25 lead after the first period. Those 12 minutes, largely dominated by point guard Tony Parker of the Spurs, provided spectators a glimpse of what was sure to be an exciting contest.
The Indiana Pacers second unit responded very well in the second quarter. Their bench, rebuilt by Pacers’ President Donnie Walsh and general manager Kevin Pritchard this offseason, showed what they are capable of against arguably the most successful franchise in the NBA over the past two decades. DJ Augustin was breaking down the San Antonio defense and finding open shooters. Tyler Hansbrough entered the game and hauled in 11 rebounds in about 11 minutes of action.
After 24 minutes, it was the Pacers that had a four-point lead at 52-48.
Coming out of the half, the Pacers’ starting five continued where the bench left off. With strong play from Lance Stephenson and Paul George, the Pacers opened up a 17-point lead and looked to be running away from the Spurs. Stephenson, whom former Pacers President Larry Bird called the team’s “most talented player,” even made Tony Parker look silly on an incredible crossover and drive to the basket for a layup that forced Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout.
Not so fast, though, Popovich replied. San Antonio came out of the timeout and closed the third quarter on a run of their own to inch back within four points, 77-73, heading into the home stretch.
That’s when the Indiana Pacers lost the lead and lost the game. It turned into the Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili show, as per usual. Not a soul on the Pacers could stay with Ginobili as he drove to the basket, drained open shots and found open teammates for more offense. Parker and Duncan put the finishing touches on the win, as Parker put together a 33-point, 10-assist evening and Duncan was, well, Duncan.
The future Hall of Fame center added 22 points and 17 rebounds – a typical outing for the crafty veteran – to put the blue and gold away for good.
David West led the Pacers in scoring with 22 points to go with eight boards. Paul George followed up his historical night on Wednesday with 15 points and Hibbert closed the night with 10 points (5-18 field goals) and 11 rebounds.
The Indiana Pacers are now staring at a three-game western road trip followed by their first matchup with the Bulls at the United Center in Chicago.