When they met in December up in Indianapolis, the Rockets lost to the Pacers by 33. In Friday night’s rematch they remembered.
“That’s all we talked about,” Dwight Howard said after the Rockets turned the tables on the team with the Eastern Conference’s best record, to the tune of a 112-86 win. “We wanted payback. It was good for us to come out tonight and stay on them for four quarters.”
Houston led 27-16 after a quarter. Indiana took a 12-10 lead with 5:05 left after a Paul George steal led to a Lance Stephenson layup to cap an 8-0 run, but the Rockets answered with a 14-2 spurt of their own.
“We came out and we had a really good defensive first quarter,” Rockets head coach Kevin McHale said.
In the second quarter, the Rockets were able to grow the lead to 16, but the Pacers held them to six points over the last five minutes of the half, cutting the lead to seven at the break. Indiana scored the first four points of the third quarter to make it a one possession game, but then the Rockets exploded going on a 33-6 run, making it a 30 point game.
“I think the first quarter was great, but the third quarter was where we did a lot of damage.” Howard said.
When the buzzer sounded on the third quarter the Rockets had put up 38 points against the league’s best defense, the most they’ve allowed in a quarter all season. James Harden, who in three games against the Pacers since joining the Rockets was shooting less than 25 percent from the field, did a lot of the damage. He scored 12 points in the first half, but went off for 16 in the third quarter.
The win gets the Rockets to 43-19 on the season. In the span of 72 hours they’ve beaten Miami and Indiana, but the schedule won’t get easier. On Sunday, they’ll host Portland. After that they hit the road with games in Oklahoma City, Chicago, and then Miami.
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