Pacers build big lead, quiet Jazz
by Mike Wells, USA TODAY Sports
The signature moment came midway through the third quarter when the game was already a rout and the only thing to be decided was the final margin.
Utah Jazz power forward Derrick Favors went up thinking he had an easy dunk.
Indiana Pacers swingman Paul George thought he was going to get dunked on, but he knew he had to contest the shot because the Pacers didn’t want to give up any easy baskets to the Jazz in the paint.
George — as he has done for more than a week now — won this battle.
The Pacers’ can’t-do-anything-wrong player came out of nowhere and blocked Favors’ attempt. The Pacers, as they did all game, scored easily on the other end.
It was that type of night.
The Pacers trailed for the first 5 1/2 minutes but then woke up, took off and never looked back in a 104-84 victory over the Jazz.
“The defense led to offense a lot for us tonight,” Pacers coach Frank Vogel said. “It hasn’t done that enough for us this year, but tonight it certainly did. Our offense is coming. When we got stuff that was created by our defense, we executed well on the offensive end.”
The Pacers’ loss at Milwaukee on Tuesday left them in a foul mood in the hours leading up to the game. They knew they had let a game — and Bucks guard Brandon Jennings — get away from them.
The plan Wednesday was to match Utah’s physicality, which Vogel said is the best in the NBA, and not allow the Jazz’s frontcourt of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Favors and Enes Kanter dominate the paint.
Instead of playing physical, the Jazz played as soft as toilet tissue.
The Pacers (14-12) held the Jazz (14-13) to below 30 percent from the field for nearly three quarters. Utah ended the game shooting 37 percent from the field.
“They are a good defensive team,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “They took us out of what we wanted to do early. They forced a lot of late shot-clock shots, most of them from the perimeter.”
The Pacers held an opponent to single digits … [For more on Pacers build big lead, quiet Jazz, click here.]