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Watson's shooting lifts Pacers over Bobcats 99-74

AP - Sports
Watson's shooting lifts Pacers over Bobcats 99-74
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- C.J. Watson needed a night like this.

The sixth-year NBA pro wasn't knocking down shots and didn't feel like much of a contributor this season for the Indiana Pacers.

That all changed Wednesday night.

Watson hit five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter and finished with a season-high 18 points to help the Pacers to their fifth straight victory, a 99-74 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night.

''I have been struggling and I knew I'd been struggling,'' Wilson said. ''But I just stayed in the gym, stayed focused and just kept working and stayed confident. I tried to go out there, be aggressive and take what the game gave me.''

Watson had made just 6 of 29 3-pointers this season coming into the game. He was 6 of 8 against the Bobcats.

''I think he was just looking for it and we drew some plays up for him,'' Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. ''One of them was in transition and we got him one early when we got him a corner flare. Sometimes, when you hit the first shot, it changes your momentum of the game. He'd been struggling with his shot but he's kept working.''

Lance Stephenson had 15 points and 10 rebounds and Roy Hibbert added 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers. Paul George had 15 points to surpass 3,000 for his career.

Al Jefferson had 16 points and nine rebounds for the Bobcats, who have lost six of their last seven at home.

The NBA's best defense limited the Bobcats to 31 percent shooting as the Pacers improved to 14-1, the best start in franchise history. Indiana held Charlotte's backcourt duo of Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson to a combined 6 of 32 from the field.

''They keep you from getting into the paint and they have long, strong defenders on the perimeter,'' Henderson said. ''And then they really protect the basket well with Hibbert. Playing a team like that, if your jump shot is not falling then it's going to be tough to beat them.''

Indiana led 60-52 entering the fourth quarter despite shooting just 28 percent from the field.

That's when Watson caught fire.

He knocked down three 3-pointers in the opening three minutes to help push the lead to 12. His fourth 3-pointer helped stretch the lead to 17 with 6:45 left in the game.

''That's when we went haywire,'' Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said.

The Pacers would finish 14 of 20 from the field in the fourth quarter, including 7 of 9 on 3-pointers to outscore the Bobcats 39-22.

''Good Indiana Pacers-style win with offensive balance and different guys stepping up each night and dominating with defense and rebounding,'' Vogel said. ''C.J. Watson obviously was the star of the game tonight. It seems like it's a different guy every night for us.''

It was a rough night offensively for the Bobcats (7-9), who had more fouls (27) than field goals (26).

The Pacers set the tone early, holding the Bobcats to 4-of-22 shooting from the field in the first quarter to jump out to a 22-11 lead.

Clifford said after the game he's still a little ''concerned'' about his team's offense.

''We have to continue to develop our post-up game with Al and we have to be more diligent about staying with what we're doing,'' Clifford said.

Charlotte would hang tough and cut the lead to five at the break behind 10 first-half points from Jefferson, who was able to challenge Hibbert in the low post. Jefferson's presence helped minimize the effects of Henderson and Walker, who struggled to find their stroke and were a combined 3 of 16 from the field in the first half.

George entered the game averaging 26.8 points over the previous four games and had 12 points at halftime. But he picked up his third and fourth fouls in the opening two minutes of the second half, sending him to the bench.

NOTES: The Pacers have only allowed 100 points once this season, that coming in a 110-94 loss to Chicago earlier this month. ... George has scored in double figures in every game this season. ... The Pacers have won four of their last five games against the Bobcats. ... Walker was 3 of 17 from the field and Henderson was 3 of 15.

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