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Pacers' defense pays off against Bobcats

The SportsXchange

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Indiana Pacers lead the NBA in all the major defensive statistical categories, and they are taking great pride in it.

The Pacers put that stifling defense on display again Tuesday night as they routed the Charlotte Bobcats 103-76, limiting the Bobcats to 34.7 percent shooting from the field and piling up a whopping 60-31 rebound advantage.

It was the Pacers' fifth win in the last six games, and it was so dominant that Coach Frank Vogel was able to rest his starters for the entire fourth quarter. Indiana led by 30 early in the fourth.

"It was a great win for our guys," Vogel said. "I'm very proud of our effort and our discipline. It's very difficult no matter who you're playing or what the circumstances are to build a 30-point lead on the road. So I'm just proud of our effort." The Central Division leaders came into Tuesday night leading the NBA in fewest points allowed (89.3) and lowest opponent's field goal percentage (.413).

Tuesday night's win marked the fourth time in the last six games that the Pacers have held opponents to 80 points or less. The 76 points matched a season-best defensively for the Pacers.

"We're playing really good basketball," Vogel said. "Our defense is a beast. We're leading the NBA in a number of defensive categories, we've got length, and these guys are committed to trying to be the best defense in the NBA. That's carrying us. Our offense is a work in progress. It can get clicking and we can get really hot at times, and when it does, what happened tonight happens. We're playing good basketball."

Roy Hibbert led a balanced attack with 18 points. He was at his best at the start of each half, as the Pacers jumped out to a 25-11 lead early and then blew the game wide open by outscoring the Bobcats 33-17 in the third quarter.

Hibbert was so excited about the defensive effort that he offered all the reserves $100 apiece if they could hold Charlotte under 80 points down the stretch. He gladly paid.

"We're just trying to be solid and play good defense and try to win on the road, because we've had trouble with that," Hibbert said. "We're doing the beest that we can. We're really focused going into games right now."

Perhaps the most-impressive stat was this: The Pacers had 42 defensive rebounds to only four offensive rebounds for the Bobcats.

"Our defense is something we've been consistent with all year long," said Paul George, who finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. "I don't know if the league has got a hold of that yet, but this locker room, everybody believes in our defense."

The Pacers (24-15) also got 16 points from George Hill, and 15 points and eight rebounds from David West.

They had lost to the Bobcats in Charlotte earlier this season.

"We've turned it around," George said. "We've been playing better and we saw a stretch here in the schedule where we could get some momentum, and that's what we've done. This was a game we were supposed to win, but it's still good to come out and take care of business the way we did."

The Bobcats (9-29) lost their fifth straight. They have now lost 13 straight at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Gerald Henderson led the Bobcats with 15 points, and Kemba Walker and Ramon Sessions scored 13 each. But starters Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Hakim Warrick and Bismack Biyombo combined for a mere 13 points.

"When you have three starters who don't score in double figures -- that's unacceptable," Bobcats coach Mike Dunlap said. "It was just a tough night for us. It was our fourth game in five days. That's not an excuse, because every team in the league does it. But we didn't have much energy."

NOTES: North Carolina coach Roy Williams was on hand to watch former Tar Heel Tyler Hansbrough, who had nine points in 17 minutes. ... Hansbrough was one of several members of the Pacers' traveling party that toured the Hendrick Motorsports shops during the off-day Monday. ... The Pacers will close out this road trip with a game at Orlando on Wednesday. ... The Bobcats' last win at Time Warner Cable Arena came on Nov. 21 over Toronto. ... Dunlap has now used nine different starting lineups, and five of those combinations have failed to produce a single victory. ... The Bobcats will next hit the road for a game at Orlando on Friday. ... The Bobcats remain without Byron Mullens, who missed his 11th straight game with a sprained left ankle. ... Indiana will close out a three-game road trip at Orlando on Wednesday.
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