EditorsNote: 2nd update: changes in first three grafs
James Harden scored 28 points, but his lone block helped the Houston Rockets secure their third consecutive win, 98-94, over the host Indiana Pacers on Monday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Pacers guard Victor Oladipo scored eight points down the stretch, but Harden blocked an Oladipo shot with 28.8 seconds left and the Rockets leading 93-90. Harden later sealed the victory with two free throws with 5.4 seconds remaining.
Harden and P.J. Tucker (nine points, five rebounds, two steals) each hit a key 3 down the stretch to offset the surge by Oladipo, who led Indiana with 28 points. Domantas Sabonis added 17 off the bench for Indiana while, Tyreke Evans and Bojan Bogdanovic scored 11 points apiece.
Clint Capela chipped in a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Rockets.
The Pacers frustrated Houston throughout the third quarter, running the Rockets off the 3-point line while forcing eight turnovers in the period, seven by the 7:16 mark of the third. Indiana turned a 9-0 run into its biggest lead of the game at 65-57 in a Myles Turner tip-in.
Still, the Pacers failed to take full advantage offensively despite limiting the Rockets to six field goals in the third. The Rockets trailed 75-69 entering the fourth, a deficit that vanished quickly. When Carmelo Anthony drilled an open 3, the Rockets pulled even at 81-all with 6:17 to play.
The Rockets’ promising start from the perimeter proved fleeting. Houston started 3 of 4 from behind the arc and led by as many as nine points in the opening period, but once that 3-point proficiency dried up, Indiana fashioned a comeback and erased that deficit early in the second.
The Pacers’ defense was largely responsible, forcing two turnovers and a pair of Rockets misses from deep during a 13-2 run. Oladipo converted a scoop layup at the 7:31 mark of the second quarter, providing the Pacers their first lead at 37-36. Indiana produced 28 points in the paint in the first half, a nice complement to its defensive prowess. The Rockets missed 17 of 22 3-pointers following the hot start, but Harden kept them afloat with 18 points prior to the break.
—Field Level Media