By Peter Finney Jr., The Sports Xchange
NEW ORLEANS -- David West scored 20 of his game-high 25 points in the second half, including six in a critical 10-0 run in the final 3:37, to lift the sluggish Indiana Pacers to an 81-75 victory over the New Orleans Hornets Saturday night at the New Orleans Arena.
The Pacers, who trailed by as many as 22 points late in the second quarter, held the Hornets to just seven points in the third quarter to tie the game, 53-53. The Hornets made only 3-of-17 shots (17.6 percent) in the quarter and went more than six minutes without a basket.
Counting the final 45 seconds of the second quarter, the Pacers outscored New Orleans 29-7 in a 12:45 span, with West getting 15.
From there the teams traded mini-runs, with the Hornets taking a 70-65 lead on a rebound dunk by Anthony Davis and a conventional 3-point play by Robin Lopez. But Indiana came right back, with West hitting an 18-footer and a tough jumper in the lane over Davis to put the Pacers back on top, 71-70, with 2:38 left.
West added a 14-footer over Davis on the Pacers' next possession, and with Indiana clinging to a 77-75 lead, West muscled into the paint and then hit a fallaway 15-footer over Davis' outstretched arms to ice the game, 79-75, with 16 seconds left.
The Hornets played their best defensive half of the season in holding the Pacers to 29 first-half points on 31.6 percent shooting. Actually, the Pacers were fortunate to be trailing only 46-29 at intermission because they scored the final five points of the second quarter. Other than George, who had 11 first-half points, the Pacers' other starters were 8-of-29 from the floor, and West was just 2 of 9.
The Pacers' offensive woes were symbolized on one second-quarter possession. Lopez blocked an inside move by Paul George, Anthony Davis blocked David West and then Lance Stephenson shot an airball from 15 feet.
Lopez, who had 13 in the first half and led the Hornets with 24 overall, scored seven consecutive points to put New Orleans up 28-15 early in the second quarter. His nicest play was the result of pure hustle, knocking the ball away from Ian Mahinmi near the top of the key and then dribbling the length of the court for a layup and a foul shot.
The Pacers (16-12) won for the sixth time in seven games, while the Hornets (5-22) lost their 11th straight game.
NOTES: The Pacers played without forward Gerald Green, who sustained a sprained left ankle on Friday. ... Hornets GM Dell Demps said shooting guard Eric Gordon, who rejoined the team after seven weeks of rehab on his sore right knee, has been cleared for full contact in practice. Gordon rejoined the team on Thursday and said he hopes to play in a game by the end of the month. "He worked out today," Demps said before Saturday night's game against Indiana. "We'll integrate him into practices next week, and then we'll make an evaluation and hope to get him back soon. Once he's at a point where we feel he's ready to play an NBA game, we'll have him play." Gordon, who signed a four-year, $58 million deal in the offseason, has played in only nine games the last two seasons, and Demps said he did not want to rush him back. "The thing we want to do is put him in situations where we feel like he's comfortable and he looks like he's ready to play," Demps said. "I don't think it's smart to go out there and play a guy 48 minutes. We're going to really take a look at the evaluation next week before we make that decision."... Pacers guard Lance Stephenson is playing with a sprained right ankle that is just about 85 percent healthy.