Guard Donald Sloan, a Dallas native, scored a game-high 29 points
to lead the Pacers to a gutsy 111-100 victory over the Dallas
Mavericks on Monday night at American Airlines Center.
The Pacers entered the game averaging 20 fewer points per game than
the high-octane Mavs, the league's highest-scoring team at 109.9 per
contest. However, it was Indiana's offense that stole the show, with
Sloan's aggressiveness and dead-eye 3-point shooting fueling two
Indiana led by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter and then
survived down the stretch with clutch defensive possessions that
kept Dallas scoreless for more than seven minutes.
"I knew going in that there would be more shots coming my way,"
Sloan said. "Also, we played a bit faster, so there would be a lot
of shots going up a bit quicker. I kind of took that kind of full
stride going into the game. I knew getting a few more shots this
game I had to knock them down."
Sloan is taking advantage of point guard George Hill's injury
absence, and he was fantastic again against Dallas, draining 10 of
14 shots, including three of four from beyond the arc. He also
dished out five assists and committed just one turnover in 38
"It must be because he's back in Dallas," Pacers coach Frank Vogel
joked. "No, he's been showing that all year. He's been our starting
point guard and a big reason we've been able to win some games and
weather a storm in this stretch."
Even with Sloan's stellar play of late, it didn't seem a fair
matchup against the Mavs on their home floor. The Pacers on Monday
introduced a starting lineup without a single player who started in
Game 6 of last year's Eastern Conference finals.
Center Roy Hibbert sprained his ankle in Saturday's loss at Phoenix
and joined Hill and forward David West, who has yet to play this
season due to a sprained ankle, on the inactive list. All-Star
forward Paul George is likely out for the season with a broken leg
sustained during a Team USA practice during the summer. Guard Lance
Stephenson joined the Charlotte Hornets as a free agent.
Still, the Pacers (6-8) managed to win for the fifth time in seven
games after starting the season 1-6. Dallas (10-5) lost consecutive
games for the first time this season after winning six in a row.
Indiana, which possesses one of the worst offenses in the league,
methodically built a 55-50 halftime lead while shooting 51.3 percent
from the floor and 53.8 percent (seven of 13) from beyond the arc.
"Poor," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said when asked about his team's
approach to defense. "We got outscored in every single quarter.
That's a demolition. It was a physical demolition. We're not the
most physical team in terms of our body types, but we've got to be
real tough mentally, and Indiana just played a great game. We have
to give them a lot of credit. They played a first-class, hard-nosed,
mistake-free game, and they deserved to win. We did not meet the
challenge. It's obviously disappointing."
In the third quarter, Dallas crept within one point several times,
but the blue-collar Pacers just kept grinding away at both ends.
Indiana turned a steal into two Sloan free throws for a 73-66 lead
with 4:52 to go in the third.
In the fourth quarter, forward Damjan Rudez corralled a long
rebound, fired an uncontested 3-pointer and drilled it, giving
Indiana its biggest lead at 98-86 advantage with 8:27 to go.
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"I thought we scrapped and clawed and showed a toughness out there,"
Vogel said. "But what I'm most impressed with our guys tonight is
our offensive confidence. We keep talking about, 'We've got to
execute.' OK, but you've got to have confidence to make big shots,
and our guys made big shot after big shot most of the night, and I'm
real proud of all of them."
Even so, the bunch of Pacers players unaccustomed to playing
crunch-time minutes hit a rough patch in the fourth quarter.
The Mavs scored seven consecutive points to cut the deficit to
98-93. Forward Solomon Hill finally ended an Indiana scoring drought
that lasted more than four minutes with a pair of free throws, and
then Sloan hit the dagger. A loose ball came to him and he buried
the 3, Pacers' 13th long ball on 26 attempts.
"Just a bad loss," Mavs forward Chandler Parsons said. "We had a
short-handed team at home. With what our schedule is looking like,
we have to take advantage of nights like this.
"There's no way around it, it's an embarrassing loss, we have no
room for this, especially in the Western Conference, how tight
everything is. There is no excuse for this, we have to come out and
play harder, and we can't allow a team like this to come into our
place and beat us."
All five Indiana starters scored in double figures. Forward Luis
Scola had 14 points and 11 rebounds. Guard Rodney Stuckey and
Solomon Hill scored 12 points, and center Ian Mahinmi had 10 points
despite missing six consecutive free throws late in the fourth
Rudez contributed 11 points off the bench, making four of five
shots, and forward Chris Copeland also had 11 points, including
Guard Monta Ellis led Dallas with 24 points, but he committed five
turnovers, including a couple of killers as the Mavs tried to rally
late in the fourth. Forward Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points, Parsons
had 16 and forward Brandan Wright came off the bench to score 13
NOTES: Mavs F Dirk Nowitzki passed Oscar Robertson (9,508) for 16th
place on the NBA's all-time field goals made list with a 17-foot
jumper in the first quarter. Nowitzki, who finished 9-for-17 from
the floor, now has 9,514 career field goals ... Pacers G Rodney
Stuckey (left wrist) was cleared to play after going through the
team's shootaround without any problems. ... Indiana G C.J. Miles
(sore right calf) was cleared to play, and he scored six points in
17 minutes. ... Mavs G Raymond Felton was available for the first
time this season but didn't play. He recovered from a high ankle
sprain suffered early in the preseason and has completed his
four-game suspension stemming from a guilty plea to gun charges last
year while with the Knicks. ... Dallas plays host to the New York
Knicks on Wednesday. Indiana plays at San Antonio on Wednesday.
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