7:00 PM ET, February 10, 2014
Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN
INDIANAPOLIS -- All David West wanted to do Monday night was get his team playing the right way.
He made sure of it.
West scored 25 points in less than 27 minutes and Roy Hibbert added 14 as the NBA's top team dominated the middle and blew past short-handed Denver 119-80 for its most lopsided win this season.
"We played with the right attitude. We came out aggressively. We got off to a good start," West said. "Tonight, we made a concentrated effort to get to the goal. No letdowns."
For the Pacers (40-11), it was just another stepping stone victory.
They still have the league's best record, best home mark (25-2) and best defense. They still lead two-time defending champion Miami, now by four games, in the Eastern Conference. They still have not lost back-to-back games since mid-December and have not lost three straight all season. They even padded their league-leading scoring differential.
And if Denver coach Brian Shaw is to be believed, they might have the best overall player in the league, too.
Shaw spent the previous two seasons working extensively to help George when he served as an Indiana assistant.
"Paul George is an All-Star starter, and I said this morning that he's the best two-way player in the game -- and that includes LeBron (James) and everyone else you include," the Nuggets coach said after Indiana ended its five-game skid in this series.
The scariest part may be that the Pacers didn't even need George to be at his best Monday night.
He finished with 12 points, five rebounds and four assists -- numbers mitigated by the fact the Pacers were so far ahead after three quarters that coach Frank Vogel rested his starters the entire fourth quarter and didn't play any of them more than 28½ minutes.
Instead, George was content to let West and Hibbert lead the way.
Did they ever.
West scored 21 of his points in the first half and finished 11 of 13 from the field, making his last nine shots. Not surprisingly, Indiana outscored Denver 58-36 in the paint. Hibbert finished with 12 rebounds on a night the Pacers had a 56-37 advantage.
That, combined with Denver's depleted roster, was just too much for the Nuggets (24-26) to overcome.
Denver has now lost three in a row, five of its last seven and has suffered its two most embarrassing defeats of the season in less than a week. It lost 117-90 at New York on Friday.
The Nuggets also finished with a season-worst shooting percentage (31.5), far worse than their previous low mark (36.4) against the Clippers on Dec. 21. Only three players reached double figures -- Wilson Chandler with 17, J.J. Hickson with 12 and Jordan Hamilton with 11.
Only 10 players dressed for the Nuggets and their top two point guards -- Ty Lawson, the Nuggets' top scorer, and backup Nate Robinson -- sat out with injuries. Lawson missed the game with a fractured left rib. Robinson was out with a sprained ACL in his left knee. Randy Foye played reasonably well at an unfamiliar spot, finishing with nine points, 10 assists and only three turnovers, the Nuggets weren't the same without their two playmaking ball-handlers.
"We were just timid, unsure with everything we did," Shaw said. "Sometimes, you're overmatched. Tonight, we were overmatched."
After trailing for the only time all night, 11-10, Indiana quickly took control.
West spurred a 22-5 run that gave Indiana a 37-20 lead early in the second quarter. The Pacers then finished the half on a 14-4 run to make it 61-40, and Denver never got closer than 19 over the rest of the night.
"At this point in the season, we need every win," George said. "Tonight we were able to come out early and just execute. I thought we played with a lot of energy, we shared the ball, we did a great job defensively. We forced them to take tough shots."
Indiana's last win over Denver was a 31-point blowout in November 2010. ... The Pacers also avoided getting swept by Denver, something they had done only three times in the previous eight seasons. ... The Pacers led by 21 points at the half and by 29 after three quarters, both season bests. ... Indiana's 58 points in the paint also tied a season high. ... Denver finishes a four-game road trip Wednesday at Minnesota.
INDIANAPOLIS - FEBRUARY 10: of the Indiana Pacers of the Denver Nuggets at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on February 10,...
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MVP: High post. Low post. It didn't matter where he was on the floor. David West scored at will, particularly in the game's opening stanza -- 17 of his 25 points came in the first quarter.
Defining moment: This game got out of hand in a hurry. The Pacers -- thanks to the aforementioned West -- jumped out of the gates in the first quarter, building a double-digit lead and never looking back.
That was ... ruthless: After blowing a 17-point lead in a 93-92 loss to the Magic on Sunday, Indiana was out for blood against the Nuggets from the opening tip. The Pacers showed no mercy in a 39-point rout.
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The Pacers' 39-point win over the Nuggets is Indiana's largest margin of victory over any opponent since beating the Bulls 140-89 (51 points) on March 28, 2003.
Nuggets fell to Pacers 119-80...their largest loss this season (previous largest was 27 vs Knicks (2/7/14)) and second largest past 15 seasons[+]
Largest losses past 15 seasons:
The Nuggets went 28-of-89 from the field tonight, making just 31.5% of their shots. That's the Nuggets' worst field goal percentage since March 21, 2004 vs the Timberwolves (30.9%).
In a rivalry that goes all the way back to the ABA, the Pacers 39-point win over the Nuggets is the largest win in the history of the series.
Pacers shot a season-best 57.5% from the field in their win tonight, their best field-goal percentage in a game since shooting 57.9% against the Wizards on April 4, 2012
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