Intact backcourt inspires Pacers' road win

Guards Rodney Stuckey and George Hill click together as Pacers cruise to largest victory of the season at Brooklyn.

George Hill made his first start of the NBA season and Rodney Stuckey returned in a major way one night after suffering a game-ending facial contusion.

The first time the Indiana Pacers had their starting backcourt together proved to be a catalyst for a 110-85 road victory over the Brooklyn Nets Saturday night at Barclays Center.

Hill asserted himself at point guard with an early dunk and Stuckey showed no ill effects from taking a shot to the face at Detroit with a team-high 20 points. Hill finished with 12 points, six rebounds and five assists as the Pacers won for the second time in three games with him in the lineup.

Hill had come off the bench the previous two games, but his authoritative, right-handed dunk in the opening minutes served notice that he wasn’t going to be slowed by a left knee contusion that had sidelined him for the first 28 games.

The Pacers (11-20) shot 50 percent for the fourth consecutive game, three of them victories. And this was a bounce-back win from Friday’s 119-109 loss at Detroit as Indiana’s defense improved dramatically by allowing just 38 second-half points. The Nets (13-16) shot just 34.6 percent from the field.

Stuckey also had eight assists, the most for a Pacers player this season, and six rebounds. He hit 7-of-13 shots from the field.

Indiana’s 33 assists were a season best. The 25-point margin of victory was also the team’s largest this season.

The Pacers were without key reserve C.J. Miles, who was sidelined by an upper respiratory infection, but still had seven players score in double digits. David West and C.J. Watson each scored 17, Luis Scola 13, Chris Copeland 12 and Lavoy Allen 10.

Ahead 50-47 at halftime, Indiana outscored Brooklyn 29-18 in the third quarter and pulled away with a 31-20 advantage in the final quarter.

The Pacers hit 44-of-86 shots (51.2 percent), a season best, and tied a season high by shooting 50 percent from 3-point range (9-of-18). They also dominated inside with a 48-28 edge in points in the paint.

Former Pacers guard Jarrett Jack led the Nets with 22 points.

The Pacers return home Monday to host the Chicago Bulls (21-9) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Miami Heat (14-17) visit on New Year’s Eve day for a 3 p.m. tip-off on Wednesday.

Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.


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