Mavericks get thumped by Pacers, fail to get back to .500

The SportsXchange

DALLAS -- So much for those razors.

The Indiana Pacers made sure a fresh shave will wait for a number of Dallas Mavericks after running away with a 103-78 road victory Thursday night at American Airlines Center.

George scored 24 to lead the Pacers in what was a defensive slugfest before Dallas was buried in the third quarter. Indiana, in the hunt for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference at 46-27, has won three in a row.

"I was very, very pleased with the win," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "In particular, our defensive effort seemingly keeps getting better and better. I'm very impressed with how dialed in our guys are, and how disciplined they're playing on the defensive end. We moved the ball pretty well in the second half, better than the first half offensively. Paul George played like an All Star. Great win."

Dallas (35-37) came into the game with a chance to reach .500 for the first time since being 11-11 on Dec. 12. A win would have meant a number of Mavericks would have shaved beards they've been growing for almost two months.

More important than facial hair, Dallas is angling for the last playoff spot in the West. The loss leaves the Mavericks behind the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz in the race for No. 8.

"We had disappointing starts to both halves," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "We overcame the first one and battled back and actually got the lead a couple of times. Then to start the second half, they went on a 16-5 run and we just were never able to respond the way we needed to."

The Pacers wrestled away control to open the third quarter with what became a 20-5 run, thanks in part to getting into the bonus in just three minutes. The Mavericks had just two field goals in the first six minutes of the second half.

"Terrible time to have a loss," Elton Brand said. "It's very disheartening and it was just one of those games. We win and see the Lakers lose and we feel good about ourselves. Having a loss on our home floor is defiantly disheartening."

Indiana doubled up the Mavericks 34-17 in the third quarter to take a 75-58 lead into the fourth. Dallas wouldn't get any closer than 10 in the final period.

"It started with getting stops," Vogel said. "We were able to get out, and when you attack before the defense is set you usually get better looks. I thought Paul George made some great passes in that quarter to find guys open and then when they stayed home on shooters, he attacked and scored. I thought it was mostly about Paul, but a lot of guys contributed. It's all about our defense really."

George added eight rebounds and six assists. Roy Hibbert had 16 points and 11 boards for the Pacers, who have won two straight in Dallas for the first time since the 1981-82 season.

Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 for Dallas, but struggled from the floor as the game went on. Vince Carter added 14 points off the bench. The Mavericks shot only 38 percent.

The Mavericks took advantage of wild end-to-end play in the second quarter to take a lead by attacking the basket and scrambling defensively. Indiana's Lance Stephenson's driving layup late in the final seconds of the second period sent the teams into the locker room tied 41-41.

Nowitzki had 12 points in the first half, with Darren Collison scoring nine. George had nine points for the Pacers, who led for most of the opening 24 minutes. Both teams shot less than 40 percent in a grinding first half.

Indiana opened up a 13-6 lead midway through the first quarter and 23-18 at the end of the period. Nowitzki scored eight of Dallas' first 10 points.

The Mavericks conclude their homestand Saturday against the Chicago Bulls. The Pacers are at the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.

NOTES: Pacers forward Danny Granger will miss the rest of the season after it was decided to have surgery on his left knee. The former All-Star played in just five games this season. "Succeeding in this league is about confidence," Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. "It's not like we just lost Danny and we have to go out and establish a belief in ourselves. We've got a great deal of belief in ourselves, in who we've become this year without Danny." ... David West, out six games with a strained lower back, did return Thursday. "He's a lion in the locker room, our heart and soul and he gives us that swagger," Vogel said, "knowing that we're playing with one of the best in the game at the power forward position." ... Just getting back into the playoff hunt was an accomplishment for Dallas, which sat 10 games under .500 earlier this season. "We're in a situation where virtually every moment matters," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "If your senses aren't heightened and you're not alive right now, then get out of the locker room. This is where we need everybody." ... O.J. Mayo's barber, Omar, attended the game hoping to get some postgame work. Several Mavericks, including Mayo and Dirk Nowitzki, made a pact on Feb. 6 not to shave until the team reached .500. Dallas was 35-36 before facing the Pacers.
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