Four days in between games gave the Indiana Pacers time to practice and rest after an impressive 99-91 home win over the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Question is, can the Pacers return to business Saturday at Dallas and play more like the team that knocked off the Spurs?
The Pacers (34-30) are a precarious seventh in the Eastern Conference because they haven’t finished games consistently as was the case against the Spurs. Head coach Frank Vogel conceded San Antonio (55-10) missed a lot of open looks. The Spurs shot a season-low 35.4 percent from the field, including 4-of-28 from 3-point range.
On Dec. 21, George and Ellis combined to make just 4-of-24 shots for 13 points in a 106-92 loss at San Antonio. This time, they combined to hit 15-of-33 shots for 49 points. Ellis scored 21 of his 26 points in the second half.
“Everybody refreshed their mind at the All-Star break and everybody locked in,” Ellis said. “We’ve been having some tough losses, but at the end of the day we’ve been staying together and staying positive.”
The Pacers are 12-13 in games decided by four points or less. They’ve continually had leads late in games yet lost.
That’s what made the Spurs game a confidence boost, if nothing else. They built a 12-point lead after the opening quarter and didn’t let it slip away.
“We know if we don’t put a perfect game together, we don’t have a shot of winning,” George said of facing the Spurs. “It’s just one of the best efforts we’ve had as a group defensively.”
After finishing the back-to-back road weekend at Atlanta Sunday, the Pacers return home for five games. Eleven of the last 16 games are at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where Indiana is 19-11.
Last season, the Pacers let a playoff spot slip away in losing the last game to finish 38-44. They were eliminated by virtue of a tiebreaker.
A playoff spot is in their grasp, if this team can play like it did against San Antonio. Granted, that doesn’t happen every night, but it needs to occur more often than not down the stretch.
“All you have to do is look at the standings to know one loss can knock you down to (ninth place),” Vogel said.
Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.